As we wrap up June, we also end Pride Month, a national celebration for the LGBTQ community and a commemoration of the movement towards civil rights. While rainbow flags decorate the streets of Louisville, Governor Andy Beshear signed a proclamation today that June is Pride Month, the first in the history of the Commonwealth. But, where do we go from here as we move into July?
It’s important to remember the ways in which our allyship with the LGBTQ community extends beyond the month of June. Despite the overwhelming societal support, the LGBTQ community continues to struggle. For CASA, we see this in the LGBTQ youth we serve.
Youth homelessness is a widespread issue within this country that has disproportionately affected the LGBTQ community, particularly worse within the transgender community. When LGBTQ youth transition out of foster care, they are at a higher risk of homelessness which can lead to increased instances of drug use, violence, and prostitution. “Among both homeless and non-homeless clients, 30% identified as gay or lesbian and 9% identified as bisexual.” (Report by The Palette Fund, True Colors Fund, and Transgender Homeless Youth Provider Survey, March 2012). According to the National Congress of State Legislatures, “4.2 million youth and young adults experience homelessness.”
Unfortunately, social services and organizations that provide valuable resources for this population are gravely underfunded and understaffed. For the kids within the LGBTQ community, the resources are even more scarce. Disparities in the system set-up this vulnerable population to fail. Disparities include invalidation of the LGBTQ youth experience, lack of sexual education, and systemic prejudice.
How can we, as the CASA community, help change this disparity within the LGBTQ community?
1. Educating yourself on LGBTQ youth and their struggles is the first step. For more information on how you can be an LGBTQ ally, check out the resources and topics at Youth Engaged 4 Change https://engage.youth.gov/resources/being-ally-lgbt-people
2. Becoming a volunteer, spending 1-4 hours a week advocating for vulnerable youth, can change a child’s life. Becoming a CASA volunteer gives you the opportunity to help youth navigate the courts and social services towards a life filled with safety and acceptance. Learn more about volunteering, www.casarr.org.
Durso, L. E, & Gates, G. J. (2012). Serving Our Youth: Findings from a National Survey of Services Providers Working with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth Who Are Homeless or At Risk of Becoming Homeless. UCLA: The Williams Institute. Retrieved from https://escholarship.org/uc/item/80x75033
Michelle Page, Forgotten Youth: Homeless LGBT Youth of Color and the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, 12 Nw. J. L. & Soc. Pol'y. 17 (2017). https://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/njlsp/vol12/iss2/2
Nordmarken, Sonny, et al. Health Care Disparities and the LGBT Population. United Kingdom, Lexington Books, 2014.
Philippe-Benoit Côté, Martin Blais. (2021) “The least loved, that’s what I was”: A qualitative analysis of the pathways to homelessness by LGBTQ+youth. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services 33:2, pages 137-156.