HRC Blog

Responding to the Needs of LGBT Homeless Youth

Post submitted by Steffi Mangelsdorf, HRC Foundation Intern

On September 26, the Center for American Progress held a panel on America’s homeless LGBT youth in response to its landmark report “On the Streets: The Federal Response to Gay and Transgender Homeless Youth.” LGBT youth are disproportionally represented among homeless youth, and the panelists agreed that the state still remains the missing link to provide functional nationwide guidelines.

The panelists provided their policy recommendations that proved successful at a state-level and hope to expand these federally.

Panelist Jama Shelton, director of the Forty to None Project and True Colors Fund, explained the necessity of build bridges between LGBT youth and their environment. Her aim is to create the largest online service directory, which can include partners as simple as a 24-hour coffee shop to support LGBT youth if a shelter is full.

Panelist Shahera Hyatt, executive director of the California Youth Homelessness Project (HYP), illustrated the empowering process of actively engaging youth in research and policy discussions by giving them a voice to share the experiences of homeless LGBT Youth.  HYP identified three main themes to effectively end youth homelessness: prevention and early intervention, education, and employment opportunities for LGBT youth.

The panel reaffirmed not only a disconnection between policymakers and the experiences of homeless LGBT youth, but also that these issues need to be addressed from the bottom up. HRC’s report, “Growing Up LGBT in America,” shows that 4 in 10 LGBT youth believe their community is not accepting of LGBT people, and shows a staggering account of the unmet needs that LGBT youth face.

HRC supports actions to address the well-being of LGBT youth, prevent homelessness, and fund and expand existing LGBT youth programs, including the Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act, Every Child Deserves a Family Act, and HRC Foundation’s All Children – All Families initiative.

The panelists concluded that service providers and policymakers can end LGBT youth homelessness if they work together and prioritize preventive initiates on the ground.

To learn more about HRC’s work with LGBT youth, visit http://www.hrc.org/issues/youth-campus.

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