1. Are there really a lot of these LGBT homeless?
Numerous studies confirm that one in four teens who come out at home before they are 18 will become homeless.1 That number has not changed over the years, and that number has not changed over geography. It was true in studies done in Arkansas 20 years ago, it is true in a study done in New York in 2008.2 In Houston, the number of homeless (without access to their family home) LGBT teens in the area is estimated to be 800 – 1200, with approximately 300 on the streets each night.3
1One example, Ray, N. (2006). Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth: An epidemic of homelessness. New York: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute and the National Coalition for the Homeless
2 Ryan, C., Huebner, D., Diaz, R. & Sanchez, J. (2009, February 16) . Family Rejection as a Predictor of Negative Health Outcomes in White and Latino Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Young Adults. Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 345-353 www.pediatrics.org
3 HATCH (a program of the Montrose Counseling Center) estimates
2. Why does AFCI focus on GLBT youth and families?
There are a number of children who have been dumped by parents who have explicitly rejected them or who have run away from home because they have reason to believe their parents would reject them if they knew about their sexual orientation or gender identity. One in four youth under 18 years of age who come out as gay, are rejected by their families, peers and religious communities, rendering them homeless. Though the gay population is 4- 5% of the general population, gay youth compose 30% on average of the homeless youth population.
There are traditional shelters for underage youth but often they are not friendly to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth. Youth at these shelters often experience the same rejection that they experienced at home, leaving them feeling confused and isolated. AFCI will educate staff at facilities about LGBT issues and offer a safe, supportive environment where the youth can develop self assurance and create a healthy, successful life.3. Why do LGBT adolescents become homeless?
3. What are the dangers faced on the street by youth?
Resources and support for these youth are virtually non-existent, leaving them to fend for themselves. Life is a constant struggle focused on getting their basic needs of food, clothes, and shelter met. As a result of their circumstances, they are vulnerable to exploitation, malnourishment and sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV/AIDS), violence, and homophobic hate crimes.
4. How did AFCI come about?
The concept of serving gay youth (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth) at risk of family separation or already homeless, began in 2005 based on observations at meetings of Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). The first attempt ended when hurricanes Katrina and Rita created a huge homeless problem in New Orleans that spilled over to Houston. After a great deal of research on homeless gay youth, their needs and their families, the project re-started in 2008 and formed as a nonprofit in 2009.
5. Who does AFCI serve?
AFCI serves Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Youth 12 – 17 years of age who are at risk of family separation or who have already become homeless.
6. How can I help?
- Spread the word
- Host a Class/Speaker
- Be an advocate for AFCI
- Work with our board
- Be a speaker
If you are interested in any of the above opportunities, please contact us.