Pull For Pride
Uplifting Homeless Youth Across The Country
We envision a world where everyone has equal opportunity to express their voice and embrace their power. The Women’s Strength Coalition is committed to using our collective strength to impact the world in a meaningful way.
While many strides have been made in civil rights and societal acceptance for LGBTQ people, it only takes a closer look at LGBTQ youth to see that this population has not necessarily benefitted from mainstream political victories and is still incredibly vulnerable. As the True Colors fund says “the disparity of LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness is unfathomable.”
National studies show that 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, as compared to 7% of the general population. These numbers are likely conservative, as youth may not want to out themselves when seeking services. Additionally, 99% of organizations providing services to homeless youth reported working with LGBTQ youth in their programs, even when their programs were not specifically LGBTQ-youth focused.
Why are the numbers so staggering? Conflict with families related to their sexual orientation and gender identity is the most common cause of LGBTQ youth homelessness. After coming out to their families or being discovered to be LGBTQ, half of all teens get a negative reaction. More than 1 in 4 are thrown out. Many others are abused both verbally and physically or made the focus of their family’s dysfunction.
The systemic reasons that many LGBTQ youth experience homelessness are complex. Factors of race, poverty, and transphobia exacerbate a youth’s vulnerability. Many young people have already experienced the multiple failures of social service and child welfare systems meant to protect them, including youth who age out of foster care with no safety net.
Once a youth is on the streets, their vulnerability only increases. They’re at higher risk than their non-LGBTQ homeless peers for being victimized by others and for experiencing negative sexual and mental health outcomes. They have higher rates of substance abuse. And as they fight for survival, they’re also at higher risk of arrest, as homelessness is the #1 predictor of youth involvement in the juvenile justice system.
In accordance with our mission of using our collective strength to benefit the world in a meaningful way, The Women’s Strength Coalition’s June 2018 Pull for Pride Fundraiser will benefit select organizations that provide direct support to LGBTQ youth struggling with homelessness. Beneficiary organizations include, but are not limited to, Casa Ruby (DC), The Ali Forney Center (NYC), Avenues for Homeless Youth (Minneapolis), Lost-n-Found Youth (Atlanta), Valley Youth House (Philadelphia).
Next week, we will announce all participating Pull For Pride locations and dates, as well as early registration information!
-Erica Smith, M.Ed. for the Women’s Strength Coalition
Sources: True Colors Fund, Valley Youth House, Advocates for Youth.
About The Author
Erica Smith is a sexuality educator with a M.Ed. from Widener University’s Center for Human Sexuality Studies. Based in Philadelphia, she works primarily with young women and queer and transgender youth in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. She writes, consults, and teaches on a variety of human sexuality topics and has been recognized by Lambda Legal and Women’s Way for her advocacy for LGBTQ youth and young women. Erica began lifting in 2008. She has experience competing in powerlifting and strongman, but kettlebells are her first love.