Friday, November 18, 2011

Philadelphia - City Hall recognizes LGBT homeless youth

Just when I was wondering if we had forgotten about homeless youth, especially LGBT youth who have a much higher probability of being homeless due to coming out to parents who are not accepting, the city of Philadelphia does something right.

For the first time ever, the city is formally recognizing November as Runaway and Homeless Youth Awareness Month, marking the occasion with a proclamation that was read Tuesday at City Hall by Gloria Casarez, the city’s director of LGBT affairs.

“National Homeless Youth Awareness Month provides an opportunity to shed light on the issues of youth homelessness and the challenges [the youth] face daily,” Casarez read. “Along with losing their home, their community, their friends and their routines, as well as a sense of stability, many homeless young people are victims of trauma. While trying to survive on the streets, youth are exposed to countless dangers with increasing likelihood of substance abuse, early parenthood or depression.”

According to C2P (Housing Committee of Connect To Protect, a coalition of youth-serving agencies and advocates, organized by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia), LGBT youth are disproportionately affected by homelessness, with an estimated one in five Philadelphia homeless youth identifying as LGBT.

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless:
  •  20% of homeless youth are LGBT compared  to a general LGBT youth population of 10%.
  • LGBT youth, once homeless, are at higher risk for victimization, mental health problems, and unsafe sexual practices. 58.7% of LGBT homeless youth have been sexually victimized compared to 33.4% of heterosexual homeless youth
  • LGBT youth are roughly 7.4 times more likely to experience acts of sexual violence than heterosexual homeless youth
  • LGBT homeless youth commit suicide at higher rates (62%) than heterosexual homeless youth (29%)
It would be great if this city's recognition of LGBT homeless youth issues would spread throughout the country and hopefully, lower crimes and suicide, against and by, LGBT youth.

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