A half-century after the Stonewall riots in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan in 1969, significant progress has been made for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBT+) rights in the U.S. Yet, progress still awaits some of the most vulnerable members of the LGBT+ community.
4.2 million youth experience homelessness in America each year – a higher number than the population of 22 states in the U.S. Up to 40% of these individuals are LGBT+. Moreover, LGBT+ youth are 120% more likely to experience homelessness than their non-LGBT+ peers.
Why is this happening? Family conflict and rejection continues to be the primary factor that forces LGBT+ youth out of their homes.
To move the needle on housing LGBT+ youth, we need to provide them with support services that help address their unique experiences, and make them feel welcome and safe in housing that is run by providers specially trained to support them. And, when services are able to help the most impacted youth, in particular LGBT+ youth, then access to housing will become more realistic for all young people in need.
True Colors United and Citi Community Development are taking much needed action. We are collaborating to expand the reach of training to housing and service providers, community groups, and local governments that can help them more effectively meet the social and cultural needs of LGBT+ youth at risk or experiencing homelessness, and setting them up for success as they work to serve all young people in need.
With Citi's catalytic investments, True Colors United also aims to increase the number of municipalities it can team up with and provide recommendations for creating programs, policies, and physical spaces that are inclusive and safe for LGBT+ youth, with the goal to increase the number of communities that develop long-term plans and solutions to end LGBT+ youth homelessness locally.
The youth experiencing homelessness today can be tomorrow's leaders – and we must all do our best to provide them with a pathway to stability or we risk leaving them behind. To us, progress in ending homelessness for youth means more than creating places for people to live. It means ensuring that all have access to a safe, inclusive and welcoming home, and that they have the support they need to be healthy, happy and successful adults.
True Colors United has also partnered with Citi's New York City Pride Network for several years and will be marching alongside the Network in this year's World Pride parade this Saturday, June 30th.
Our multifaceted partnership was highlighted by Grammy, Emmy and Tony award-winning artist and co-founder of True Colors United, Cyndi Lauper, and Gregory Lewis, Executive Director & CEO of True Colors United, who joined me recently for a panel discussion at Citi's global headquarters in celebration of Pride Month.
"It's important to understand that you can't throw humans away. Youth can't just fall through the net, you've got to catch them and make them see that they too can experience a successful, productive life that will enrich themselves and our society." - Cyndi Lauper, Grammy, Emmy and Tony award-winning artist and Co-Founder of True Colors United
To learn more about how we are moving the needle on inclusion for LGBT+ youth, visit True Colors United's website.