Yesterday, an LGBT-inclusive measure to protect homeless youth failed in the U.S. Senate that contained protections for homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth. The amendment fell short of the 60 votes necessary for passage.
The Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (RHYTPA) would have reauthorized programs that help youth obtain housing, education and job training, includes non-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as their race, color, religion, national origin, sex, or disability.
“I’m disappointed the measure failed to pass but grateful for the 56 senators who voted in favor of protecting all of our nation’s 1.6 million homeless youth,” Dexter Foxworth, Director for Zebra Coalition said. Ensuring that every young person has equal access to programs and services is critical to preventing homelessness and human trafficking. Sadly, 43 senators chose to oppose this critical protection for our nation’s most vulnerable youth.”
LGBT youth are particularly vulnerable to homelessness. In fact, 40 percent of the 1.6 million young people who are affected by homelessness each year identify as LGBT, even though they make up only 5 to 10 percent of the overall youth population. Every day, homeless LGBT youth experience rejection and discrimination from their families, communities, and the providers who are supposed to help them.
In voting against RHYTPA, the Senate is making a conscious choice to refuse young people safe, supportive and healthy resources.
Zebra Coalition is the only organization in Central Florida that can provide a full continuum of services to LGBT+ youth. We are the only organization dedicated to meeting the specialized needs of homeless LGBT+ youth in Central Florida and offer short-term housing facilities. We also offer a drop-in center where many youth have received food, clothing, showers, free medical and mental-health care, and access to activities and specialized groups.