40% of Homeless Youth in New York Are LGBT (Video)

New Yorkers held a rally Monday night to raise awareness for homeless LGBT youth. Hundreds of activists, queer youth, members of the media and homeless kids crowded into Manhattan’s Union Square.

The rally was held by the Ali Forney Center, Queer Rising, New Alternatives and FIERCE, to draw attention to the ongoing crisis of homeless LGBT youth in New York City.

Speaker Councilman Lewis Fidler decried the fact “that children are sleeping on subway grates in NYC tonight,” and as Chairman of the Council’s Youth Services Committee, he noted that there were an estimated 3,800 homeless youth in the city, 40% of whom were identified as LGBT, and that there were not enough shelter beds for even a fraction of them.

On the eve of the event, the Ali Forney Center said that their waiting list had exceeded 200 for the first time. They say that an LGBT teen is eight times more likely to experience homelessness than a straight teen.

“LGBT youths suffering homelessness on the streets face terrible risk of HIV infection, physical and sexual assault, and suicide,” they said.

“New York City and New York State combine funds to support fewer than 200 youth shelter beds. In 2011 Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature cut funds for homeless youth by 50%, and Mayor Bloomberg sought to cut funds for homeless youth by 60%.”

A National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, An Epidemic Of Homelessness estimated that 42%, more than half a million, of all homeless youth nationwide are LGBT.

Family conflict, including conflict over a youth’s sexual orientation or gender identity, is the primary cause for young people becoming homeless, the report says. In one study, 50 percent of gay male teens who came out to their parents experienced a negative reaction and 26 percent of them were told they must leave home.

Calling it “unconscionable” that LGBT youth were living on the streets, Fidler called on the media to make the public aware of their plight.

“Britney Spears goes out without underwear and there’s a 3-page spread in the papers,” the Councilman told the rally, “But there aren’t three column-inches about homeless [LGBT] youth.”

The Ali Forney Center, which opened in 2002, is named for a young, gay homeless man who was brutally murdered on the streets in 1997.

New Alternatives, whose residents marched to the rally, was created in October 2008 by a group of volunteers and professionals with experience working with homeless LGBT youth in various shelter and transitional housing settings. The mission of the organization is to increase the self-sufficiency of homeless LGBT youth to enable them to “go beyond” the shelter system.

In this moving video, a homeless young lesbian tells the rally her story.

Rally for homeless LGBT youth from Washington Square News on Vimeo.

Related stories:

Supporting New York’s Homeless LGBT Youth (VIDEO)

Cyndi Lauper to Open Homeless Shelter for LGBT Youth

LGBT Immigrant Youth Face Increased Risk of Homelessness

Picture credit mailliw


kenny s.
Kenny Stidham7 years ago

STEVE R and JW. H.. Because you both sound perfect for one another why not start a homosexual relationship together? A match made in hell. It is a "trumped up number" JW H. Its much much higher than 40% actually.

Tom P.
Tom Pearce7 years ago

I would adopt every one of them if I could afford it!

Tom P.
Tom Pearce7 years ago

Well this just hurts like hell to see these kids on the street! Being Gay is damned hard as it is! Can you imagine your parents disowning you? Can you imagine that an adult would tell you that your going to hell because of who you are? No, these kids need love and someone to be their real friend as we all do! Instead, they are left to be on their own! Not Good because the only thing left is drugs, alcohol, and anything to get your mind off the fact that society for the most part hates you and what you are! Something that you cannot change!

Gloria Morotti
Gloria Morotti7 years ago

So sad that these young people are homeless, whether they are LGBT or straight.

Winn Adams
Winn Adams7 years ago

Thanks to all for the rally. Now lets hope this makes a major difference for these kids. They sure deserve it!

Linda T.
Linda T7 years ago

It has always been a shame on our country how we treat children. We blame them for having a disabilities, we blame them for their age, we hand out tough jail sentences on them for not having a fully developed brain, we medicate them to the hilt, we allow them to go hungry, we don't give them adequent health care if their parents are not rich, we send them to schools that are policed, and yes we throw them out on the streets if they are born different. What a country, What a world we live in.

Mary L.
Mary L7 years ago

Reasons there are so many homeless LGBT kids is that regular shelters either cater to adults, the kids don't trust them, or the second the tell the truth they're out. In Nashville Tennessee there is one shelter for kids and they are amazing.

They have 2 programs. One for teens 13 - 17 and one for kids 18 - 21. The Oasis Center needs to be cloned repeatedly. http://www.oasiscenter.org/#programs

JW H.7 years ago

40%? I doubt it. A trumped up number to get attention.

pete M.
peter m7 years ago

Very probable 60% are alcoholics and drug users.
Some are schizophrenic from years of blatant the choice of self removal from society and their disdain of accepting responsibility.
I see the homeless i offer them cloths warm as we live in a cold area.
Even before Fall they were pursuing their passion of drugs and alcohol.
I've been approached for money and I say if you need food I will go and buy you food but not help you continue to live using alcohol and drugs.
Sorry I've worked too hard and it ticks me off knowing these people have graduated from our schools and live with their pregnant welfare Mom's on the dole. While they passed up available hard working jobs because they couldn't make a wage "they think they deserved"
Just to much crapola and the people that are getting screwed are the middle class that saved a few bucks to be sure they kept their cars tuned and insured to work at wages just barely enough to keep the heat on.
And didn't overspend on expensive I-pads or Androids charging all the toys and then comitting bankruptcy.

Amanda M.
Amanda M7 years ago

I still can't believe that so many parents who claim to adhere to "family values" will throw their kids out into the street because they're LGBT. REAL parents will love their kids no matter what sexuality they are! To do such a hateful thing to your own flesh and blood is pure evil, no matter how they try to "justify" it.

Family values, my ass.