The True Colors Fund applauds new legislation introduced today by U.S. Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI), and co-sponsored by U.S. Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI). The Runaway and Homeless Youth Inclusion Act aims to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth experiencing homelessness and make sure that homeless LGBT youth receive services that are inclusive, culturally competent, and tailored to their needs.
“No young person should ever be homeless, let alone because they are gay or transgender, but when they are, we need to ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect when they seek help,” said Cyndi Lauper, Co-Founder of the True Colors Fund. “I applaud Representatives Moore and Pocan for championing the Runaway and Homeless Youth Inclusion Act. Every young person, no matter who they are, deserves an even break and should never be turned away. If we want a strong future, we need to invest in all of our youth.”
The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) is due for reauthorization this year. RHYA does not contain protections for LGBT youth, despite the fact that they comprise a disproportionate amount of the youth homeless population. The Runaway and Homeless Youth Inclusion Act would address this important omission.
“Despite the fact that up to forty percent of homeless youth identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, there are no protections for them in the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, which is up for reauthorization this year,” said Gregory Lewis, Executive Director of True Colors Fund. “That’s why the Runaway and Homeless Youth Inclusion Act is so critical. These young people need our support and need to know that they will be protected and accepted when they reach out for help.”
The True Colors Fund worked very closely with Congresswoman Moore in drafting this legislation and applauds the several key aspects towards understanding and addressing LGBT youth homelessness contained in the Act, including:
- A provision prohibiting Runaway and Homeless Youth Act grant recipients from discriminating against LGBT youth and ensuring that homeless LGBT youth receive culturally competent services;
- Requirement that data on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression be collected from all youth who enter the RHY system;
- Assurance that the Family and Youth Service Bureau include, in the report it compiles and sends to Congress every five years, information about the prevalence of LGBT youth homelessness; and
- Acknowledgement of family rejection as a root cause of LGBT youth homelessness, and its focus on marshaling programs that help families struggling to understand or accept their child’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.