Post submitted by the staff of the Boston Alliance for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth (BAGLY)
In the days leading up to MLK Day of Serviceon January 20, HRC and its partners, including BAGLY, are working to increase national attention about LGBT youth homelessness through service activities in over 15 cities.
Stay tuned to the HRC Blog throughout January as our members, supporters, and allies share their stories about why they are participating in MLK Day of Service and the work that we are doing together.
It’s a figure that is often repeated in news stories and throughout our communities: 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. Organizations and individuals working with LGBTQ youth might not be surprised by this statistic, but it’s still a shock to the system.
For over 30 years, the Boston Alliance for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth (“BAGLY”) has opened its doors to LGBTQ youth and their allies regardless, and frequently because of, their lack of housing. BAGLY is frequently asked which of our programs support homeless, or marginally housed, youth, and the answer is inevitably: all of them. Why have a drop-in open 5 days a week? Because not everyone has a place to go. Why offer free STI and HIV testing? Because not all youth trust traditional clinical settings. Why keep a kitchen stocked with snacks and drinks? Because homelessness has many voices, and not all are ready to ask a food pantry for the nutritional support they need.
Why offer a safe space for LGBTQ youth to be themselves, make friends, and develop vital professional and activism skills? Because LGBTQ youth need to find their own voices, and demand the homes and communities they deserve.
The focus at BAGLY is always on the development of a strong, vocal, and vital community of LGBTQ youth. We avoid saying “leaders of tomorrow” because we recognize that many have already assumed the mantles, and responsibilities, of leadership. Youth experiencing homelessness are vibrant voices in this community, and tell stories that can be bleak and hopeful at the same time. These voices communicate the need for visibility, advocacy and opportunities. These voices have caught the attention of a national audience, and through honoring the MLK Day of Service, you will also honor the stories and strength of homeless LGBTQ youth in addition to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Teaming up with HRC on this MLK Day of Service means a different type of visibility for homeless LGBTQ youth, and it will also deliver tangible hope as they continue their journeys. The ability to interview with fresh breath should not be underestimated. The warmth provided by donated hats or gloves will not go unappreciated. The support of programs that seek to alleviate the symptoms of homelessness, and eradicate the causes of LGBTQ youth homelessness, are sound investments in a future that gets brighter daily.
This MLK Day of Service, we thank you for remembering people at all stages of their journeys. To learn more about what LGBTQ youth are doing to advance human rights at BAGLY, please visit our website at www.bagly.org or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bagly.allies!
This January 20, please join HRC and BAGLY in the fight against LGBT youth homelessness. To join this event in Boston, please visit www.hrc.org/MLKBOSTON
And to find an MLK Day of Service event near you, visit http://www.hrc.org/campaigns/martin-luther-king-jr-day-of-service