Monday, January 09, 2006

San Francisco LGBT Center surveys poor & homeless gay youth

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Equality MySpace LogoCross post from The Equality MySpace Blog w/ Matt Hill:
Survey shows challenges of poor LGBT youth
San Francisco's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center released a study today of the city's LGBT youth. This survey, targeted toward homeless and severely poor LGBT youth is the first to outline and assess the challenges of poor and homeless LGBT youth.

According to the article in The San Francisco Gate there are four "fairly predictable factors" that keep the LGBT youth surveyed in extreme crises: "a lack of affordable housing, education and accessible jobs, and drug use".

According to the article:

The survey, to be released today by the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center, also found that 31 percent of the young people who responded have turned to prostitution and 19 percent are selling drugs to support themselves. Fifty-three percent hold low-paying jobs.

The survey was conducted at community organizations, including the center itself and Larkin Street Youth Services, over the past nine months by four youths who face the same poverty and gender issues as those being queried, said Roberto Ordenana, director of community programs at the center. Ninety-three youths, ages from 13 to 25, participated. Some 67 percent of those surveyed live on the streets, or in shelters or transitional housing.

Ordenana said he believes the survey shows a need for counseling tailored to the needs of gay youths at city shelters to help them overcome discrimination and their own fears so they can secure low-cost housing, find jobs and finish their education. A new shelter specifically for gay youths might be a good idea, too, he said.

"What we're seeing is that many LGBT youth, who generally come here from across the country because they're fleeing discrimination in their schools and communities, are finding that once they get here the housing is too expensive, so they fall into poverty and homelessness," Ordenana said. "And without safe, supportive and affordable housing, the youth aren't able to access jobs, continue their education, deal with mental health issues. They are stuck."

Out of the many other findings of the survey: "85 percent listed housing as their biggest problem, 70 percent listed jobs and income as the second-biggest issue, 65 percent listed substance abuse as the third-biggest issue, and 41 percent said education is their fourth-biggest issue".

Wow! Everybody already knew that the LGBT youth population was already vulnerable but it is exciting that someone, somewhere has decided to look out for those within that population who are even more vulnerable: the poor and homeless.

I think that the United States Government should commission a study to be done on LGBT youth and poor and homeless LGBT youth. Maybe then the Government would see what big problems exist. Either that or the results would be so skewed by our current anti-gay lawmakers that the studies would help no one.

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As a SF resident, one of the problems I see is that older lgbt folk aren't taking care of our own. When MCC SF built a youth hostel a few years back all of the gay men who owned houses in the Castro raises a ruckus. NIMBY! It'll lower the property values. MCC went ahead anyway. Good for them, the Christian thing to do. But, with a couple of exceptions like the MCC hostel and Tenemos Catholic Worker, lgbt youth shelters and places to get on one's feet are too few in this city of refuge.
Think they are few in San Francisco... come to North Carolina sometime!

I think the biggest theme in my LGBT activism, as well as other's biggest theme (including high school activist Tully Satre) is that our youth are the most vulnerable segment of the LGBT population. In fact, I might go as far to say that LGBT youth are the most vulnerable segment of the entire US population.

Serious work on LGBT youth issues is needed all across our nation and especially in places like the South and Mid-West.