Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the America’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organisation, in partnership with the True Colors Fund, co-founded by Cyndi Lauper, and Time Out Youth Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, released an innovative guide for LGBTQ youth facing the daunting prospect of living on their own after leaving unsupportive or abusive homes, or ageing out of foster care.
On Our Own: A Survival Guide for Independent LGBTQ Youth is geared toward older teens and young adults forced to fend for themselves, typically without parental support and often lacking the skills or resources needed to live safely and begin building a successful life. The guide provides practical advice on essential topics ranging from finding housing, going to school and opening a bank account, to getting a job, accessing healthcare and living on a budget.
“As we work toward a more equal world for LGBTQ people, we know that our youth remain vulnerable, particularly when they are rejected by their families simply because of who they are,” said Mary Beth Maxwell, HRC Senior Vice President for Programs, Research, and Training. “The distressing reality is that far too many LGBTQ young people are forced to fend for themselves, and struggle daily to find housing, food, and other basic resources.”
“As the mother of a teenager, I’m constantly reminded of how important it is for young people to have help and guidance as they transition to adulthood,” Maxwell said. “We were honoured to partner with True Colors and Time Out Youth to provide this practical roadmap for LGBTQ youth looking to independently establish stability and security in their lives.”
Across the country, LGBTQ youth are particularly vulnerable to homelessness. Research shows that of the nearly two million young people affected by homelessness each year, up to 40 percent identify as LGBTQ — even though they make up only five to 10 percent of the overall youth population. Many homeless LGBTQ young people say they have been rejected by their families. They also often face harassment or discrimination when attempting to access shelters and other services. The new guide highlights many LGBTQ-friendly service providers.
LGBTQ youth are also overrepresented in the foster care system, where they face unique challenges because of their identities, and often age out without the support necessary to live successfully on their own.
“LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness may not know how to navigate certain situations, like opening a bank account, accessing healthcare, or locating food – and they may not have anyone to ask for guidance,” said Jama Shelton, Deputy Executive Director of True Colors Fund. “‘On Our Own’ provides the information and resources these young people need to thrive.”
“So many of our youth become independent at an early age and do not know where to turn for help or have the basic skills to survive on their own,”said Rodney S. Tucker, Executive Director, Time Out Youth. “We hope this guide will answer some of their big questions and get them on the path to stability.”
For more information on LGBTQ youth, including issues of homelessness and foster care, visit www.hrc.org/resources/topic/children-youth.