NPR on the crisis of homeless LGBT kids

NPR ran a yesterday this morning focusing on the plight of homeless LGBT youth.

A number of studies of homeless youth in big cities put forth a startling statistic: Depending on the study, somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of homeless youths identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

It’s largely because gay youths are more often kicked out of their homes than straight youths. And even if they are not kicked out, they may feel so uncomfortable that they leave.

In New York City, nearly 4,000 young people are homeless every night — many of them gay.

The piece focuses on New York City, where there are 250 beds for 3,800 youth and where a budget deal nearly cut about 100 of those beds. Considering we know that gay and bisexual kids from rejecting homes are eight times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers it’s sadly unsurprising that they would be homeless at higher rates. As Elena Wood of Safe Horizon’s Streetwork Project put it,

…”The parent might not say, ‘You have to get out now,’ like, ‘I am kicking you out,’ especially since that is illegal if they are under 18,” she says. “It’s a fine line between what is their choice and what is not.”

Carl Siciliano, the founder and executive director of the Ali Fourney Center, raises some really important questions in the article about our focus on LGBT rights for adults as opposed to services for kids. It’s not an either/or issue, but we certainly need to make sure we don’t lose sight of the kids who are coming out younger and younger.

Born and raised in Maine, Nick Seaver moved to DC to study political communication in 2003. He began writing extensively on LGBT rights during the first ballot initiative in Maine that overturned marriage equality. He writes about a variety of issues, ranging from marriage to issues facing LGBT youth. Follow him on Twitter at @NDSeaver.

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