Reps Propose Homeless Youth Act With LGBT Protections

By Daniel Reynolds

Originally published on Advocate.com August 02 2013 12:48 PM ET

Democratic Representatives from Wisconsin Gwen Moore and openly gay Rep. Mark Pocan, have proposed legislation that would provide assistance for runaway and homeless LGBT youth.

The Runaway and Homeless Youth Inclusion Act would add language to the Reconnecting Homeless Youth Act, last reauthorized in 2008, to include specific protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender young people, a demographic at high risk for homelessness and displacement. The act is scheduled for reauthorization this year.

“I ran away from home when I was an adolescent,” Moore said in a recent statement. “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," she added. "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.”

The True Colors Fund, along with the Williams Institute and The Palate Fund, released a 2012 report that claimed 94% of U.S. youth service providers serve LGBT youth, which comprises up to 40% of their clientele. This report also listed family rejection as the most common cause of LGBT homelessness, as well abuse within the family.

Singer Cyndi Lauper, a co-founder of the True Colors Fund and an advocate for homeless LGBT youth, applauded the proposed legislation.

“No young person should ever be homeless, let alone because they are gay or transgender, but when they are, we need to ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect when they seek help,” Lauper said. “If we want a strong future, we need to invest in all of our youth.”