Post Submitted by Josh King, Former HRC Senior Public Policy Advocate
On Thursday, August 1st, Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI) and Congressman Mark Pocan (D-WI) introduced legislation that would provide robust protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) homeless youth – the Runaway and Homeless Youth Inclusion Act (RHYIA).
The RHYIA would protect LGBT youth by prohibiting discrimination against youth based on their sexual orientation or gender identity within the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA). The RHYA provides funding for support systems that serve youth that become homeless. These programs include emergency shelters, street outreach, transitional living and assistance for homeless youth in rural areas.
“I ran away from home when I was an adolescent,” said Rep. Moore. “It was the first and last time. Living on the streets is a difficult and dangerous experience – one that no child should have to endure. Unfortunately, homelessness is the reality for hundreds of thousands of youth each year. According to some studies, LGBT youth account for up to 40 percent of all homeless youth. LGBT homelessness is an issue that negatively impacts our children, our families and our communities. Omitting these young people from the RHYA sends a powerful message to this population: that addressing their trauma and fear is not a priority. The LGBT youth homelessness experience cannot be ignored.”
“Homelessness is one of the most pressing matters affecting LGBT youth,” Rep. Pocan said. “Young people in the LGBT community are disproportionately at-risk for homelessness, often as a result of the rejection, discrimination, or violence they face simply for being themselves. We have a moral responsibility to ensure that all of our youth, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, have access to life-saving services and safe, welcoming places to stay. By passing the reauthorization of an inclusive Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, we can begin to address this tragic problem and provide needed support to all of our young people in times of need.”
The Human Rights Campaign applauds the introduction of this important legislation by Reps. Moore and Pocan. We look forward to working to ensure that this bill is adopted when the RHYA is reauthorized. This bill is also supported by the True Colors Fund, National Network 4 Youth and Pathfinders.