Trump Administration Announces It Will No Longer Enforce Civil Rights Protections in Programs for Youth Experiencing Homelessness.

Nov 2019

The White House

The Trump Administration just said it’s okay for homelessness services to discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity, sex, and religion.

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced their intention to immediately suspend enforcement of critical protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, sex, and religion in all HHS grants.

Gregory Lewis, Executive Director and CEO of True Colors United, says, “This announcement dangerously undermines nationwide efforts to end youth homelessness by signaling to millions of young people that accessing life-saving services may not be safe under this Administration. LGBTQ youth should never have to fear discrimination or violence in seeking services. HHS should return to its mission ‘to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans’ and withdraw this harmful proposal in favor of one which safeguards the lives of all young people.

This change will make services less safe for LGBTQ youth.

Let’s break it down. HHS administers billions in taxpayer dollars each year to protect and preserve the health and human dignity of the millions of Americans its programs serve, including the most vulnerable youth and young adults in our country. 

Among the grant programs administered by HHS are the Runaway and Homeless Youth Street Outreach, Basic Center, and Transitional Living programs, which connect youth and young adults experiencing homelessness to emergency shelter, crisis intervention, food, clothing, and medical care, as well as longer-term interventions to support youth and young adults in achieving better outcomes in employment, housing, health, and education. 40% of youth experiencing homelessness are LGBTQ. Under the current rule, these programs cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity, sex, and religion. The Trump Administration is now saying that they can.

By abdicating their responsibility for ensuring that marginalized Americans receive these services without discrimination, our federal government commits a grave violation against the people it serves and threatens to undue decades of progress toward a more equitable and just society.

Here’s what you can do to help LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness.

Call your Senators and ask for passage of the Equality Act, which would ensure that all federally-funded programs have nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans, including LGBTQ youth and young adults experiencing homelessness who receive services from RHY programs. Call (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak with your Senator about the Equality Act – or look up your Senator here.