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LGBT Community Looks to Provide Beds for Thousands of Homeless Youth

by Rebecca Lewis
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Ralliers in Washington Square Park calling for more shelter beds

Rebecca Lewis, WFUV

In the midst of gay pride celebrations, thousands of LGBT teens and young adults are homeless and without shelter.

New York City's gay pride parade is this weekend. And nearly 50 years since it began, the LGBT community has made important progress towards equality. But despite these strides, life can be tough for some LGBT youth.

On any given night, there are over 45 thousand unaccompanied homeless youth in the country. And 20 to 40 percent of those youth identify as LGBT.

"I want you to be with us. To open our eyes to the suffering of our youth. To open our hearts to the suffering of our youth."

Those are the words Carl Siciliano used at an LGBT rally he helped organize earlier this month. It called for more homeless youth shelter beds nationwide and launched the National Campaign for Youth Shelters with the National Coalition for the Homeless.

Siciliano runs the Ali Forney Center, a shelter specifically for LGBT youth age 16 to 24. He says kids as young as 13 are getting kicked out or rejected by their families just for being who they are. Siciliano says these kids usually end up on the streets where often, they're exposed to HIV and brought into sex trafficking.

"Effectively the kids are getting pimped out in order to have a place to stay," Siciliano says.

Right now, there are over 200 youths on the waiting list for 89 beds at the Ali Forney Center. Siciliano says there are youths can wait months on waiting lists at other shelters as well. 

 

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