40% is a shocking number to hear, especially today. It’s hard to wrap your head around, but what’s even harder is that although there are a good number of homeless shelters in the country, gay teenagers are still unaccepted. The homophobic tendencies that rage around a lot of minority groups in America become a barrier for young gay teens to seek help in these shelters. They don’t feel welcome and are forced out – back on the streets.
You see them every day. They’re on the corner begging for change, wanting some form of connection to you. You never think of where they’ve come from and the suffering that has become of them since they’ve been told that they aren’t good enough by the only unit that should matter: their families.
Thankfully, a lot of teenagers find refuge in the families of friends that are more accepting, but the stay is usually temporary. Then they’re off to emergency housing. But most housing in major cities have a limit of 90 days. What’s next after that?
They have been taught to hate themselves and view their thoughts as immoral, yet through it all they have emerged from the darkness to find comfort in each other and have become their own advocates to change governmental policies.
In New York City alone, LGBT youth make up the majority of the 4,000 homeless teenagers that sleep on the streets EVERY night. Many advocates for the homeless youth movement claim that the gay policies which have been enacted cater to adults, not teenagers. Gay marriage and Dont Ask Dont Tell are just a couple examples. Though they are amazing stepping stones for Gay Rights, why have we been ignoring the homeless?
Homeless teens can’t vote and they have no money, but money isn’t what they NEED. What they need are resources. In 2011, there were 250 beds for 3,800 homeless teens in New York, and guess what? There are waiting lists for these beds – long long long waiting lists.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, though a pioneer in passing gay marriage, was making budget cuts that would have taken away 100 of these beds. Thank God the city council dug in the budget to restore them back.
LGBT homeless teens are 7 times more likely to experience violence than the straight homeless community, and because they are usually bullied in other shelters, gay homeless shelters HAVE to expand. But where is the budget? Most of them rely heavily on donations since the budget they have from their cities are mediocre at best.
A nation is judged based on how they treat the poor. 40% is too high of a number and believe me, it is climbing. Due to the fact that most of the homeless can’t vote since they have no identification, the fight has to be with us. Most politicians don’t care for non-voters, it’s a sad truth.
This is one of the most horrific issues we have today, yet it is the one that is least likely to go anywhere unless we ban together. It shouldn’t happen in America. We are not a county of bullies, we are citizens of character. Together, we must stand up for the ones that are underneath the radar, lying hungry and helpless. When someone is falling, you pick them up.
So give out your hand.