Connecting with Our Nation’s Homeless Youth
June 9, 2012 by Chad Griffin, President
Earlier today, I had the opportunity to tour a youth homeless drop-in shelter for young men and women here in Salt Lake City. I was joined by civil rights pioneer Dr. Julian Bond, as well as Valerie Larabee from Utah Pride Center, Brandie Balken from Equality Utah, and HRC board member Bruce Bastian.
The shelter, run by Volunteers of America, Utah, provides important services to young men who otherwise would be pushed to the margins of society. I had a chance to speak with some of these men and women and hear firsthand their stories and journeys, and the positive impact that VOA has had on their lives.
I left the shelter feeling even more inspired by the urgent task we have ahead of us to improve conditions for our LGBT youth. On Thursday, we released a new report – “Growing Up LGBT in America” – that paints a clear picture of the challenges our community’s youth face. We have made tremendous strides on the path toward full equality in the past few years, but we must do more to help youth who, in communities across the country, struggle with the realities of being LGBT – particularly in parts of the country where they lack the supportive infrastructure that allows them to live their lives openly and safely.
VOA, Utah is doing tremendous work to tackle and meet the needs of a population too often overlooked by society. We face the same challenge in addressing the needs of our youth. We can and must continue to push for federal advances like workplace protections and marriage equality, but we must simultaneously work to better the lives of LGBT youth. That means many things – it means making schools safer; it means calling out and eradicating homophobia and transphobia in popular culture; it means settling for nothing less than full equality. Every action we take must be taken with the best interests of our community’s youth as a primary factor.
If you haven’t already, please check out our new youth survey at www.hrc.org/youth.
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