A major problem within the LGBTQIA community is that families and friends aren’t always as supportive and accepting as we would think they would be. This leads to interpersonal conflict through political debates, personal opinions, and can cause psychological trauma to the LGBTQIA individual involved because they feel unloved and shunned by the people closest to them. The issue that follows is homelessness.
The homeless LGBT rates have shot up making it difficult to find shelters that accept and respect them. These LGBT individuals experiencing homelessness are often at a heightened risk of violence, abuse, and exploitation compared with their heterosexual acquaintances. According to the National Homeless website, 40% of the homeless youth served by agencies identify as LGBT individuals and out of that 40% only a short percentage of them are eligible for the services as listed below:
- 43% served by drop-in centers identified as LGBT
- 30% street outreach clients identified as LGBT
- 30% utilizing housing programs identified as LGBT
These numbers can easily be changed with a more accepting and humane society that values human life and respects relationships of all orientations and preferences.
Lost-n-Found Youth (LNFY) is a local non-profit organization that provides transitional housing to LGBT youth (from the ages 13 to 25) who have more than likely been kicked out by their families because of their sexual orientation. Lost-n-Found offers crisis support services like mental health evaluations and counseling, referrals to HIV/STD testing, health and dental services, assistance for lost or stolen birth certificates, driver’s licenses or state ID cards, referrals to GED training/testing and other education resources, as well as, resume writing/editing and interview skills training. They also have a 24/7 emergency response system where anywhere who needs them at any time can call, text, or email for assistance. When those youths get the assistance they need, they are able to access all the services available including clothing that’s donated to the LNFY thrift store and emergency supplies.
LNFY is a beneficial resource to those in need. There is a section on their website filled with success stories of LGBTQIA individuals who survived detrimental situations because of discrimination. One of the more noted ones was told by a girl named Kim from Florida who moved to Atlanta after her parents died. She was starting a new life with her extended family to graduate high school and get her Bachelor’s degree at Reinhardt University. She had a hard time finding work due to her sexual orientation and was homeless, unemployed, and carless for months. She was able to find and be placed in the LNFY’s program. Once her needs were taken care of, she was about to put effort into finding a job (and she did).
Another story comes from a LGBT member, Austin, never got the attention that he felt he deserved from his family because he was gay. He says that in high school his parents were going to force him to pay rent if he wanted to live in their house. At the time he had no job and decided to move out, which caused him to have to go from one friend’s couch to the next. He, eventually, was told about Lost-N-Found Youth and got placed in their home where he felt welcomed, safe, and loved.
In summary, LGBTQIA individuals face unethical decisions made by others that affect their lives every day, causing them to become homeless. What people need to start realizing and accepting is that LGBTQIA individuals are human beings just like everyone else so having a place of shelter to survive is a basic necessity, a basic human right that shouldn’t be denied due to their sexual orientation. The circumstances that the LGBTQIA community faces as a result of being rejected by their families, adds to the physical and mental strains that no one should have to deal with just for loving another human being.