Homeless for the Holidays

December 17, 2011

“LGBT kids are eight times more likely than straight youth to be homeless,” said Carl Siciliano, founder of the Ali Forney Center, a shelter for homeless LGBT youth in New York City.

Siciliano is quoted in a story on abcnews.go.com entitled “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Kids Struggle on the Streets.”

The statistics in the ABC-TV report boggle the mind:

“Resources for homeless LGBT youth are scarce and shelters are at capacity, especially in New York City where the Ali Forney Center estimates 3,800 youth are homeless, about 1,600 of them LGBT. But they have only 250 beds for youth . . ., and state and city funding has been drying up.”

“About 20 to 40 percent of youth who leave home . . . to live on the streets identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.”

“In one study, 26 percent of teens who came out to their parents were told they must leave home. Others said they were physically, sexually or emotionally abused. The task force added that LGBT youth also reported that they are threatened, belittled and abused at shelters, not only by other residents, but by staff, as well. “

Can you send a donation to a homeless shelter that works with LGBT youth?  Can you get your parish, or some committee or group in your parish, to raise funds for such a place? The report says that besides the Ali Forney Center in New York, there are only two other such shelters:  the Ruth Ellis Center, Detroit, and the Jeff Griffith Center, part of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. While these are the only shelters, many other cities offer services and programs for homeless LGBT youth.  The Ali Forney Center’s website provides a list of resources around the country.

If you want to do something locally and no shelter exists in your area, you can donate to an LGBT youth support program near you.  All major cities, and even most smaller ones, have such a place which helps to prevent young people from ending up in perilous situations.

We’re coming close to Christmas, a time when giving to charities that work with youth is an especially meaningful thing to do.  If we want our church to change, we have to start the change on the grassroots level.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


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