If the Bill Murray references are feeling a little ubiquitous today, it’s because it’s Groundhog Day: the annual day during which we put the fate of the seasons into the paws of a woodchuck named Phil. In the 1993 classic of the same name, Murray plays a weatherman trapped in a time-warp, doomed to repeat the holiday over and over and over again.
Our mission is to end and prevent lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth homelessness. With such a big goal, it’s important that we focus our efforts on forward momentum. We can’t afford to spin our wheels.
In order to escape Bill Murray’s fate in Groundhog Day – to avoid running in circles – we must study history. The lessons we learned in 2015 set us up for even more success in the year to come. It’s hard to express just how important last year was for the effort to end LGBT youth homelessness, so let’s focus on how just a few of our 2015 accomplishments will grow and evolve in the new year.
2015 was the biggest year yet in our movement. Thousands of people across the world got involved on #40toNoneDay, together reaching over 17 million people with a message: that together we can end LGBT youth homelessness. Our voices were heard. In November, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed a new rule that would require emergency shelters to house transgender folks based on their gender identity. This new rule would help ensure that young people are safe, respected, and appropriately supported while accessing services.
In 2016, we’re working with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the National Center for Transgender Equality to amass the biggest group of shelters, social service organizations, community centers, and more to provide feedback on HUD’s new rule. By collecting expert guidance, sharing stories from service providers, and prioritizing the ideas and experiences of young people, we will together ensure that this rule bests meet the needs of the young people we work with.
In December, Congress approved the US federal budget for 2016, dedicating approximately $52.5 million in new funding for work to address youth homelessness in America. This money will be invested in communities across the country to help identify successful strategies to end youth homelessness, fund vital research, and provide technical assistance support to providers on the ground.
In 2016, our national movement will be led by the youth. From Washington, D.C. to Billings, Montana, young people made a difference in 2015, advocating for federal and state legislation to better the lives of homeless youth and leading and supporting efforts in communities on the ground. This year, we’re excited to release our 2nd annual 40 of the Forty list, which highlights LGBT young people who have experienced homelessness or housing instability. These 40 young people are the experts on this issue and we aim to saturate the conversation with their voices. By connecting more young people with more opportunities to affect change in their lives and world, we can ensure that our efforts in 2016 are informed by the people they impact the most.
Thankfully, a literal Groundhog Day time-warp is only fiction (unless I’m living in someone else’s déjà vu). But a metaphorical hamster wheel is possible if we fall victim to apathy. The True Colors Fund promises to never get apathetic. And we challenge you to join us.
Mark your calendar: the second annual #40toNoneDay will be held April 27, 2016. With your help, we can reach more people than ever before with our message: that LGBT youth homelessness is a fixable issue, and that people are the solution.
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