For LGBT Youth, a Shelter From the Streets of Rejection
[Editors' note: This post is part of a series over the last few weeks on youth homelessness. In the September/October issue of Sojourners magazine, the Ali Forney Center and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) ran an ad to raise awareness of the serious problem of LGBT youth homelessness.]
Fact 1) About 40 percent of the homeless youth in the United States identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
Fact 2) One in four teens rejected by their families becomes homeless.
Fact 3) Parents who identify as strongly religious are three times more likely to reject their children.
Yet for Carl Siciliano, founder and president of the Ali Forney Center, these aren't just facts -- they are his daily life.
Siciliano founded the center in 2002 after meeting homeless LGBT youth who were abused and rejected because of their sexuality -- from being rejected by religious shelters, to being urinated on by other homeless youth, to being driven to suicide.
"About 30 to 40 percent of the kids coming to us in those days were LGBT, and they didn't know where to go," Siciliano said. "They were just stranded out on the streets at night, and they would largely survive through prostitution because they had no other way of getting any kind of money or resources.