Op-ed: Cyndi Lauper on Ending LGBT Youth Homelessness
BY Cyndi Lauper
June 29 2012 6:43 PM ET
In our first five years, Forty to None will work to drive down the number of gay and transgender youth on the streets through a campaign that includes: education and awareness to raise the visibility of these young people and the direct service providers who work with them; advocacy at the state and federal levels; strengthening the network of services, advocates, community leaders and others working on the issue; training service providers to be more inclusive and understanding of the issues specifically affecting these kids; and empowering homeless gay and transgender youth themselves with valuable resources and information.
For two years, I’ve been telling people that it’s time to Give a Damn about a part of our society that has been swept under the rug for far too long. The Give a Damn Campaign, another program of the True Colors Fund, has been about raising awareness of the problem, especially amongst my fellow straight people. The Forty to None Project is the next step. Forty to None is about action.
As the country continues to evolve and the stigma of growing up gay finally begins to fade, it’s easy to forget that we’re still facing a crisis.
Those kids on the pier opened my eyes, and I’ve made it my mission to open everybody else’s. There’s no shortage of organizations focused on ending homelessness or addressing the needs of homeless youth—but everything we’ve learned over the past year has made it clear that runaway and homeless gay and transgender youth are being left behind. These kids, even more than others, have not received the attention, resources and support that they so desperately need.
There’s a void that needs to be filled. There are kids who are struggling and need real help, and my mission is to get them that help. As I’ve said before—I can’t imagine any parent throwing a kid away. But when it happens, we need to make sure no kid is allowed to fall into a void. That’s why we started the Forty to None Project. Because I give a damn, and society should, too.
Cyndi Lauper is an artist, advocate, and co-founder of the True Colors Fund, an organization that seeks to inspire and engage everyone, especially straight people, to become active participants in the advancement of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality and to raise awareness about and bring an end to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth homelessness.