As the Center for American Progress reports, as a whole, about 5%-10% of the youth population in the United States identifies themselves as LGBT. Today, there is an alarming 1.6 to 2.8 million youth that are homeless, with roughly 30%-40% (320,000-400,000) of them hailing from the LGBT community. These staggering numbers can mainly be attributed to polarizing family relationships and the harassment many LGBT youth experience at schools and other various
social arenas. For many gay youths across the country, the act of coming out and affirming their sexuality to their parents and peers results in the downfall of their family relationship (62%) and the catalyst for verbal (86%) and physical (44%) harassment at school. With the oftentimes-hostile nature of both their home life and school life, many are led to the escape of the streets and homeless lifestyle.
Once homeless, the government is increasingly rarely present to aid. With budgets of many major American cities becoming more and more tight,governments are looking to reduce expenditures. To reduce expenses, many are looking to cut the financial aid to the homeless. Because of this, the growing homeless LGBT community is left without many options. Many shelters are ill-equipped to provide services for homeless youth and lack beds for them.
With no education, no home, no stable support system, and limited legal means for earning income, many are led to a life of prostitution andsubstance abuse, with 42% admitting to alcohol or drug abuse. In addition to this lifestyle, many revel with severe uncured and untreated depression, leading a stunning 62% of the population to attempt suicide in reaction to their situation. Additionally, the National Coalition for the Homeless estimates that roughly 5% of homeless youth are HIV positive.
Without the support of a family and with the government turning a blind-eye to a growing problem, what is the answer to solving the homeless gay youth epidemic? The answer lies within askew governmental priorities and naïve public attitudes. Standing at a defining moment in LGBT history, schools need to take collective action to change young molding perspectives to a more accepting nature and work to offer safe havens for struggling gay youth. As for the government, who is projected to spend at least $5.6 billion in 2012 related to affairs outside of it’s borders alone, it also needs to rework its own perspective in relation to domestic spending and fixation of growing problems. With the number of domestic homeless gay youth expected to rise, the monetary and social values of the United States are at an interesting and defining crossroads.