April 22, 2015 – Today, the United States Senate failed to pass the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (S.A. 290), which would reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA). The vote was 56 “YES” to 43 “NO” – short of the 60 “YES” votes required to pass.
The Act includes a non-discrimination clause that would help ensure lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth experiencing homelessness not only have access to critical services, but that those services are safe, welcoming, and tailored to meet their unique needs. Research continues to show that while LGBT youth make up just seven percent of the general youth population, they comprise up to 40 percent of the 1.6 million youth that are homeless in America each year.
The True Colors Fund applauds the 56 senators who voted in favor of the Act and thanks Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) for their leadership, but is dismayed by the Senate’s overall decision to deny our nation’s youth invaluable programs to help them obtain housing, education, and job training. In failing to pass this Act, the Senate has also refused service providers across the country much needed training to help them identify victims of human trafficking.
“Thank you to the 56 senators who showed true leadership today by voting in favor of protecting and serving all of our nation’s 1.6 million homeless youth,” said Cyndi Lauper, Co-Founder of the True Colors Fund. “Unfortunately, 43 senators put the objections of conservative religious groups ahead of the lives of our nation’s most vulnerable youth. Every day, homeless gay and transgender youth experience rejection and discrimination from their families, communities, and the providers who are supposed to help them. Today, 43 senators added their names to the group of people who think that it is acceptable to throw away the up to 40% of homeless youth who identify as LGBT.”