3 True Facts About the Dangerous Impact of Possible Executive Order on LGBTQ Youth Experiencing Homelessness

May 2017

The White House

According to numerous news outlets, an executive order (EO) providing broad religious exemptions for discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning (LGBTQ) youth seeking access to federally-funded housing and social services may be signed by the President tomorrow in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer. The True Colors Fund is deeply troubled and concerned by this possibility.

In America, up to 1.6 million young people experience homelessness each year and up to 40% of them are LGBTQ – yet only 7% of the general youth population is LGBTQ. According to a draft EO leaked earlier this year, the proposed order would give service providers receiving federal funding the right to turn away any young person at risk of or experiencing homelessness – because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

“There is never an excuse or reason that ever justifies denying services to a young person in crisis, especially because of their identity – whether it be their religion, sexual orientation, race, gender identity, or nationality,” said Gregory Lewis, True Colors Fund Executive Director & CEO. “There is nothing more important than the life of a young person and any barrier that is placed in front of them seeking the help they need is simply unacceptable.”


According to the draft EO that was leaked – which we’ve reviewed for you – we have highlighted 3 True Facts on what the leaked EO would mean for LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness if signed:

  1. The leaked EO provides a broad religious exemption for discrimination against LGBTQ people, including youth while seeking federally-funded housing, supportive, and health care services.
    1. A homeless shelter, longer-term supportive housing program, or other supportive services receiving federal funds can refuse life-saving refuge for LGBTQ youth based on their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
    2. LGBTQ youth, who are at an increased risk of being HIV positive, could be denied crucial HIV treatment meds due to a pharmacist’s denial based on one’s sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
  2. The leaked EO undoes many hard-earned protections previously put in place to safeguard LGBTQ youth from discrimination.
    1. The EO directs federal agencies to begin dismantling all rules, regulations, and guidances that protect LGBTQ youth from discrimination in housing, shelters, and social services.
  3. The leaked EO could place LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness into even more harmful situations.
    1. LGBTQ youth are already more likely to not seek support from social services out of fear of discrimination, which plays a key role in the higher rates of victimization, substance abuse, mental health issues, and trafficking for LGBTQ youth while experiencing homelessness than their non-LGBTQ peers. If this EO is signed, it will only serve to reinforce this fear and lead to even more youth not seeking the help and support that they need.


To be certain: freedom of religion is important. It’s one of our most fundamental values that is written into our Constitution. However, it is never acceptable to value the beliefs of an adult or institution more than the life of a young person in crisis and in need of help. The primary and most crucial purpose of our nation’s homeless youth, child welfare, and juvenile justice programs is to ensure that every young person in need has access to critical services they seek. This EO is in direct opposition of that; it flies in the face of every principle that this country stands for. The True Colors Fund’s primary purpose is to make sure that LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness have access to the safe, inclusive, and affirming care that they need. We will not give up until that is a reality and until all of the barriers that are placed in front of them – including this potential EO if signed – is removed. But, we cannot do it alone.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Call the White House to share your concerns for the EO and explain why it is detrimental to LGBT youth, women’s healthcare, and religious minorities.
    1. White House Switchboard: 202-456-2121
  2. If the White House switchboard is busy, leave your comments and concerns on the White House Facebook page, or tweet your message to @WhiteHouse using the hashtag #LicenseToDiscriminate
  3. Contact your Senate and Congressional representatives to share your concerns about the EO, explain why it is detrimental to LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness and urge them to act.
    1. To locate your Senate and Congressional Representative, click here .