BY Frank Selvaggi
May 07 2012
New Yorker Frank Selvaggi says the LGBT community should be outraged over the mayor’s cuts to homeless youth programs.
It is disturbing that Mayor Bloomberg’s budget proposal would cut needed services to so many of our city’s most disadvantaged youths. But truly shocking are the cuts he proposes to homeless youth services, which would force 160 destitute children out of their shelter beds and into the streets. Especially since what is currently provided is grossly inadequate; there are currently only 250 youth shelter beds for a population of 4,000 homeless kids.
This reckless proposal must be met with outrage from the LGBT community. For LGBT youths, homelessness is a terrible crisis. In New York City, 40% of the youths suffering homelessness are LGBT. So many parents are unwilling to accept their LGBT children that an LGBT teen is eight times more likely to become homeless than a straight teen. And while the experience of homelessness is horrific for any teen; LGBT youths face greatly escalated risks of violence, HIV infection, and suicide when on the streets. These risks are greatly exacerbated by the shameful lack of shelter beds.
With the passage of marriage equality in New York State, there is growing awareness that too many of our youths are not sharing in our progress. It is galling to see political leaders who strongly supported the rights of LGBT adults to marry simultaneously take actions to bring great harm to the most vulnerable of our community. With so many parents refusing to support their LGBT children, adults face a particular obligation to support and advocate for our abandoned youths.