Fifty four percent – that is the most recent data of homeless youth who identified as LGBTQ in Philadelphia in the spring, according to data the Valley Youth House released on Wednesday.
The rate was 43 percent in January, and their new summer figures that are slated to arrive on Aug. 19 don’t look promising. So why are over half of the homeless youth in our liberal city LGBT?
For all of the rainbow flags and Gayborhood fervor that has masked this city, something’s been forgotten and neglected – the rest of the LGBT movement.
LGBT endorsed local politicians such as Jim Kenny, Kenyatta Johnson, Blondell Reynolds Brown, Maria Quiñones-Sánchez and Bill Greenlee, who are applauded for their support for marriage equality and inclusion – but that has now become low-hanging fruit after the SCOTUS marriage decision.
Hearing local political “allies” say they support marriage equality is flattering, but does nothing to address more pressing matters at hand in our queer community. For far too long, City Council has not addressed the growing disparities among LGBT youth in this city beyond just the few reported hate crimes or visible homophobic instances.
Marriage equality is now easy to support, and so is the non-discrimination bills being introduced on the state level.
But who is really going to speak up about funding programs and initiatives to tackle this particular issue that is making our city look like a half-ass ally? The cynical side of me suggests that old progressive white donors who back some of these candidates wanted marriage equality at the forefront of their social issues banter.
And of course, it’s easy to back something that a sweeping majority of the nation already supports in a blue city. But talk about a group of individuals who are homeless, diverse, and most likely not registered to vote – and it gets swept under the rug. I think that’s what has happened in this case.
Yet, the optimist in me wants to believe that City Council, just like the rest of Philly, got side-tracked in the celebration and heavy buzz surrounding marriage equality and a growing talk around transgender activism to think about the growing homeless numbers.
Because there is nothing glamorous or trendy about seeing thousands of homeless LGBT kids abandoned across the city. People don’t put too much faith into local politicians and for often legitimate reasons. But for those who say they are our allies in this fight for LGBT justice and progress, I expect you to no longer ignore the suffering and devastation that many of these Philadelphians go through each and every day.
These teens are often more likely to partake in crime, commit suicide and be placed in some form of human trafficking than many others within this particular circumstance. No action from you all would only further induce the distress. City Council, I want my taxpayer’s dollars to go to helping save LGBTQ youth that look like me – not just for your fundraised words of verbal support. Please act now.