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Rolling Stone/homeless LGBT kids/fundies


Howl

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Just read an article in Rolling Stone online: The Forsaken: A Rising Number of Homeless Gay Teens Are Being Cast Out by Religious Families

"While life gets better for millions of gays, the number of homeless LGBT teens - many cast out by their religious families - quietly keeps growing"

Set aside about 15 minutes to read this longish and excellent article if this topic is of interest.

A few paragraphs:

Research done by San Francisco State University's Family Acceptance Project, which studies and works to prevent health and mental­health risks facing LGBT youth, empirically confirms what common sense would imply to be true: Highly religious parents are significantly more likely than their less-religious counterparts to reject their children for being gay – a finding that social-service workers believe goes a long way toward explaining why LGBT people make up roughly five percent of the youth population overall, but an estimated 40 percent of the homeless-youth population. The Center for American Progress has reported that there are between 320,000 and 400,000 homeless LGBT youths in the United States. Meanwhile, as societal advancements have made being gay less stigmatized and gay people more visible – and as the Internet now allows kids to reach beyond their circumscribed social groups for acceptance and support – the average coming-out age has dropped from post-college age in the 1990s to around 16 today, which means that more and more kids are coming out while they're still economically reliant on their families. The resulting flood of kids who end up on the street, kicked out by parents whose religious beliefs often make them feel compelled to cast out their own offspring (one study estimates that up to 40 percent of LGBT homeless youth leave home due to family rejection), has been called a "hidden epidemic." Tragically, every step forward for the gay-rights movement creates a false hope of acceptance for certain youth, and therefore a swelling of the homeless-youth population.

And this:

In fact, the ability to cope and handle homeless life may be significantly diminished in children who have grown up in very sheltered, religious environments. "It sounds so paradoxical, but the kid who's been abused and neglected from childhood, in this very perverse way, they're ready for the trauma that's to come on the streets," says Jim Theofelis, executive director of the Mockingbird Society, an advocacy organization for young people impacted by homelessness and the foster-care system, which does not always effectively screen for family acceptance before placing an LGBT youth. "But queer youth who grew up in a family where they were taken care of, and there was ice cream in the freezer at night, they face an extra challenge of really not being prepared for the culture of the streets or the foster-care system....That so many once-coddled youth choose this lifestyle over remaining at home is a testament to how horrifying familial rejection can be.

And this:

The problem is, running away, as Ben did, may deliver youth from their parents' judgment, but not from that of God – whom more than half of the youth I spoke with said they still believed in – and once on the street, the psychological trauma that's inherent in this deeply internalized shame often plays out to their detriment. And yet, as hard as it might be to imagine conservative faiths backing down from their demonization of homosexuality, it can be equally hard to get activists to address the issue. "LGBT­advocacy groups don't want to talk about religion," says Mitchell Gold, founder of Faith in America. "One, they don't want to come across as anti-religion. And two, they just aren't familiar with it. But the number-one hurdle to LGBT equality is religious­based bigotry. The face of the gay-rights movement shouldn't be what I call '40-year-old well-moisturized couples.' The face of the gay-rights movement should be a 15-year-old kid that's been thrown out of his house and taught that he's a sinner."

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The face of the gay-rights movement should be a 15-year-old kid that's been thrown out of his house and taught that he's a sinner.

This is a really important point. Fifteen is a difficult enough age, without hostility, rejection, and threat or physical danger from the people who are supposed to be taking care of you.

Thank you for posting the link, Howl.

In some cities, there are local organizations that help teens who've been kicked out with some of the multitude of challenges that they face-- how to find housing, what they can do to remain in school through an address change, how to find free or low-cost health services, how to find work. (I.e., the sort of stuff a 15-year-old wouldn't have to navigate in a just world.) Lyric in San Francisco is one. The Ali Forney Center in NYC is another. But there are a whole lot of areas where young gender and sexual minorities are going it largely alone.

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Yes, the Rolling Stone does an excellent job in researching their articles, then combining life stories of both the teens and people doing outreach with the data; it is a compelling narrative.

When these kids are abruptly shown the door, they are so incredibly naive and vulnerable, it makes your heart ache.

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It is a good article and really shows how obsessed religion is with sex. How they won't even follow the Bible when it comes to their children and sex. The poor kids kicked out for something they have no control over by parents who care less for their offspring then their faith jesus weeps at such things

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You know the duggers or any of those types of fundies would chuck the kid in a heartbeat. well the duggers would try to hide it. can't have the money train derail.

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Minneapolis has a lot of services for homeless LGBT kids- I've been looking into it lately because one of my internship clients is a homeless gay 19 year old. He was convicted of some homelessness-related crimes he wants help getting off his record.

Anyway, we have several shelters and homes in the city; once you hook someone up with those, it's much better. I was also looking into a program called "host homes." I originally thought they were only for 18-21, but they're for any homeless LGBT teens. People can sign up if they have an extra room, the kids can call, or social/youth workers can make the connections for them. It's just a community-based thing to provide shelter and guidance. Still, I wouldn't wish homelessness on anyone.

I also want to take this chance to plug a blog: transhousingnetwork.tumblr.com . I put my apartment on there even though there's not much space. :) Anyway, it's for providing emergency shelter to trans people, especially youth, because the shelter system often isn't safe for them to use. You post your city, describe your house/apartment and what and how long you can offer, plus any rules and whether you have pets, and leave your number or Tumblr URL. Then, people can find you when searching by city for shelter! It's not for everyone, but I think it's a really good ground-up effort, and I'd like to see one for GLB people too.

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That's not even legal to kick your underage kid out, we'll at least here its not legal.

And any parent who disown their child was never a parent to begin with

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{L_MESSAGE_HIDDEN}:
All names have been changed:

We're going through this in my family. My grandparents are raising their great-granddaughter, who I'll call Eve. I'm seen as a bad influence because I support equal rights, and so our contact is limited. She and I go through one of my cousins, Rebecca, her mom's cousin, to have contact. My grandma found a love letter, and was appalled to find it was from Rachel instead of Adam. So they've forbidden her from seeing Rachel because Rachel is also a "bad influence." My grandparents will not accept Eve if she comes out as gay. Eve is biding her time until she's 18, and then she's leaving to come live with me. She's for 5 years more to wait and hide who she is. There are no shelters for LGBT youth there, and if they kicked her out, which the definitely would, they'd go through the court to get her back if she came here. Then they'd just yell at her because that's better than her being with evil liberal me.

In the meantime, waiting for the years to pass, Rebecca is letting Eve and Rachel meet without anyone else knowing.
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  • 2 months later...

I was thinking about this article as I was reading about yet another suicide.

Much of my thinking all along on LGBT issues came from making a direct analogy from other civil rights issues. While I still think that's valid in many ways, I'm starting to think that there are real differences in the issues that need to be discussed and acknowledged.

Obviously, civil rights are important! What I'm realizing, though, is that the biggest struggles are often at the personal/family level.

I used to wonder why it would be a big deal to hear that you are going to hell. After all, since I don't believe in Jesus, it was something that I was used to hearing, and I didn't consider it a big deal as long as someone couldn't deny me rights because of that belief.

Now, I'm realizing that the analogy doesn't really work. I never believed in Christianity. My family never believed in Christianity. I had a strong support system. The fact that some other people held a belief that I was going to hell never affected my beliefs, or the beliefs of those closest to me. I could see it as their problem, not mine. My support system was intact. As well, I was surrounded by people who had also faced the same thing, so I grew up prepared for the idea that people would have different beliefs, and that was okay.

Similarly, a racial minority child growing up in a racial minority family will deal with external discrimination, but their own family wouldn't expect them to be any different than what they are. They will be surrounded by others who have gone through similar struggles. For the most part, they will know that the problem lies with others, not with themselves. [Racism does cause some issues with self-image, though.]

Many of these kids, though, are growing up relatively privileged. There may have been nothing to prepare them for the experience of making it on their own, or being different, or facing discrimination. Then, when they do come out, everything in their support system suddenly disappears.

Thoughts?

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I was thinking about this article as I was reading about yet another suicide.

Much of my thinking all along on LGBT issues came from making a direct analogy from other civil rights issues. While I still think that's valid in many ways, I'm starting to think that there are real differences in the issues that need to be discussed and acknowledged.

Obviously, civil rights are important! What I'm realizing, though, is that the biggest struggles are often at the personal/family level.

I used to wonder why it would be a big deal to hear that you are going to hell. After all, since I don't believe in Jesus, it was something that I was used to hearing, and I didn't consider it a big deal as long as someone couldn't deny me rights because of that belief.

Now, I'm realizing that the analogy doesn't really work. I never believed in Christianity. My family never believed in Christianity. I had a strong support system. The fact that some other people held a belief that I was going to hell never affected my beliefs, or the beliefs of those closest to me. I could see it as their problem, not mine. My support system was intact. As well, I was surrounded by people who had also faced the same thing, so I grew up prepared for the idea that people would have different beliefs, and that was okay.

Similarly, a racial minority child growing up in a racial minority family will deal with external discrimination, but their own family wouldn't expect them to be any different than what they are. They will be surrounded by others who have gone through similar struggles. For the most part, they will know that the problem lies with others, not with themselves. [Racism does cause some issues with self-image, though.]

Many of these kids, though, are growing up relatively privileged. There may have been nothing to prepare them for the experience of making it on their own, or being different, or facing discrimination. Then, when they do come out, everything in their support system suddenly disappears.

Thoughts?

I think this is a very important distinction. Whatever the discrimination or oppression you are facing, to go through it without a strong support system must be 1000% times more difficult.

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This is why I'm pessimistic about LGBT rights in the South, save for the more progressive cities like Atlanta and Birmingham. The "I'm here, queer, get used to it" attitude probably won't work in the face of the "bless your heart, I hope you die" Southern church culture, and many of the LGBT youth have internalized the homophobic messages they have been raised on. I've read articles on Salon and Slate that say that Southern LGBT people should just move to more progressive regions, but I don't see how that's possible, given that many of these areas are extremely expensive and good jobs are scarce, even if you have a college degree. I think that the rural South will be the most important staging ground for the LGBT rights movement, but I don't see how it can be accomplished. I'm not even sure the civil rights movement was even that successful in the rural South. I don't have any answers.

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I disagree that a lot of LGBT kids come from privileged backgrounds. Some do, but the majority do not.

And often you are dealing with issues of intersectionality with regards to LGBT youth. Poverty, race and ethnicity also play strong roles here in their experiences of coming out.

Many of these kids do not have very good support systems in place within their religious and racial/ethnic communities.

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