Press

National leader says passage of Runaway and Homeless Youth Protection Act is critical to saving lives of LGBT youth

Date: 
June 19, 2008

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“LGBT youth make up a disproportionate number of runaway and homeless youth, as many as 40 percent. It is a national disgrace that youth are turned out of their homes and communities based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. These homeless youth deserve the same safety, food, shelter, access to education and opportunity to a bright future that is the right of every child.”
— Rea Carey, Acting Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund

WASHINGTON, June 19 — The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (H.R. 5524) earlier this month, and the Senate is expected to consider companion legislation (S. 2982) later this summer. This legislation would reauthorize the program for an additional five years.

The Runaway and Homeless Youth Protection Act connects youth to family reunification programs, outreach workers on the streets, emergency shelter, longer-term housing and myriad additional support systems, including workplace preparation, education, health and behavioral health services, and other opportunities to ensure the safety and well-being of this vulnerable population. In fiscal year 2007, runaway and homeless youth programs served more than 740,000 youth in crisis situations.

“LGBT youth make up a disproportionate number of runaway and homeless youth, as many as 40 percent. It is a national disgrace that youth are turned out of their homes and communities based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. These homeless youth deserve the same safety, food, shelter, access to education and opportunity to a bright future that is the right of every child,” said Rea Carey, acting executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund. “The Runaway and Homeless Youth Protection Act is a vital part of helping this segment of our community. We praise the House for its reauthorization of this important legislation and call on the Senate for equally swift passage.”

In January 2007, the Task Force Policy Institute and the National Coalition for the Homeless released a groundbreaking report titled Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth: An Epidemic of Homelessness. The study reported that 20 to 40 percent of homeless youth were LGBT — an extraordinarily disproportionate number. The report, which was featured in media outlets coast to coast, on the air, online and in print, reached thousands of people. It stirred the conversation in Washington and was used to educate decision-makers about the plight of LGBT homeless youth.

“This legislation, and the programs it funds, really can make the difference for many LGBT young people who have been rejected by their families and society. By providing a roof over their heads and reliable support and encouragement, they can begin to focus on their long-term futures rather than on the prospect of another night on the street,” said study author Nick Ray.

Download a copy of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth: An Epidemic of Homelessness here.

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The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, founded in 1974 as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc., works to build the grassroots political power of the LGBT community to win complete equality. We do this through direct and grassroots lobbying to defeat anti-LGBT ballot initiatives and legislation and pass pro-LGBT legislation and other measures. We also analyze and report on the positions of candidates for public office on issues of importance to the LGBT community. The Task Force Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) non-profit corporation incorporated in New York. Contributions to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund are not tax deductible.