This week U.S. Reps. Gwen Moore and Mark Pocan have proposed the Runaway and Homeless Youth Inclusion Act, which would prohibit federal programs serving runaway and homeless youth from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender homeless young people.
Young people in the LGBT community are at-risk for homelessness, often as a result of the discrimination, rejection, and violence they face simply for being themselves. In fact, 40 percent of America’s runaway and homeless youths are LGBT, despite the fact that LGBT youth make up a very small percentage of the overall youth population.
Due for reauthorization this year, the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) currently does not contain protections for LGBT youth despite the fact that homeless LGBT youth are at higher risk for victimization, mental health problems, suicide and unsafe sexual practices . This inclusion act would amend the RHYA ensuring funding supports those agencies that don’t discriminate against LGBT youth and ensure their staff are culturally competent to support LGBT youth.
Zebra Coalition® applauds the introduction of this new legislation as it would ensure that all federal programs serving runaway and homeless youth meet the needs of all vulnerable youth.