Earlier today, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act.  This bipartisan legislation would reauthorize critical programs including prevention, emergency shelters, street outreach, transitional living, and assistance for homeless youth in rural areas.

This legislation is critical for all of the nearly 2 million young people who are affected by homelessness each year.  However, LGBT youth are particularly vulnerable to homelessness.  In fact, consistent research shows that up to 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT, even though they make up only 5 to 10 percent of the overall youth population. 

Importantly, the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act includes an essential non-discrimination provision that would prohibit any provider of these services from discriminating against a child based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

“Supporting our youth when they are most in need, and helping to get them back on their feet benefits us all,” Senator Leahy said. “Homeless children are less likely to finish school, more likely to enter our juvenile justice system, and are ill-equipped to find a job.  The services authorized by this bill are designed to intervene early and encourage the development of successful, productive young adults.” 

“Despite the recent decline we have seen in chronic homelessness, there are still more than 1.6 million homeless teens in the United States,” Senator Collins said.  “As the Ranking Member of the Housing Appropriations Subcommittee, I have made it my goal to address chronic homelessness.  We must make sure our nation’s homeless youth have the same opportunity to succeed as other youth.”

The Human Rights Campaign applauds Senators Leahy and Collins for their leadership on this important issue, and we will continue to work with Congress to pass this essential legislation.

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