#40toNoneDay: Tackling LGBT Youth Homelessness

Posted on 04/26/2016 @ 12:45 AM

Tags: blog, LGBT

By: Jared Hernandez, LULAC National Youth President

It’s a statistic that may shock you: Approximately 1.6 million youth across the country face homelessness each year. Particularly shocking is that approximately 40 percent of these homeless youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT), when compared to only 7 percent of the general population. Such a large number can be primarily attributed to family conflict over sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression which often results in youth running away from home or being forced out of their home by their families. With such a disproportionate representation among the homeless population, it’s important to understand the reasons why LGBT youth are experiencing homelessness and what we as a community can do to help eradicate this epidemic.

Why is this important to LULAC, the nation’s oldest and largest Latino civil rights organization? Although it's hard to determine specific statistics, a study of New York City LGBT youth experiencing homelessness estimated that 26 percent of respondents were Latino. This translates to thousands of our Latino brothers and sisters who are experiencing hardship, increased risk of mental illness, sexual assault, and increased exposure to sexually transmitted infections. Throughout its long history, LULAC has defended the civil rights of Latinos and continues to advocate for their well-being—and this includes advocating for the LGBT Latino community. In 2006, LULAC started its first LGBT LULAC Council dedicated to fostering dialogue and understanding between the LGBT and Latino communities, and LULAC has continued its commitment by expanding the LGBT councils to 6 cities and collaborating with LGBT allies in 10 states to distribute over 10,000 pieces of LGBT Latino bilingual educational materials. In February, I joined 150 fellow LULAC National Board and LULAC Youth & Young Adult members to advocate for Latino issues on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and part of our platform focused on speaking to congressional leaders about LGBT Latino youth experiencing homelessness.

On behalf of the LULAC National Youth Board, I am proud to join people across the country on Wednesday, April 27, 2016 for the second annual #40toNoneDay, a national campaign from the True Colors Fund that focuses on raising awareness about LGBT youth homelessness. The goal of the campaign is to ultimately reduce the disproportionate percentage of youth experiencing homelessness who identify as LGBT from 40 percent to none. In order to do that, we must raise awareness about the issue and encourage everyone to take an active role in ending it. On this important day, we stand with service providers, advocacy organizations, elected officials, celebrities, LGBT youth, and community members to bring visibility to our fellow youth in need.

How can you get involved with the #40toNone Campaign? Check out some ideas below to help us spread the word.
1. Promote #40toNoneDay with a Blog, email or on social media
2. Take an “unselfie” and post it on your social media accounts.
3. Host a film night + discussion
4. Ask local officials to declare #40toNoneDay by way of a resolution or proclamation

Visit the True Colors Fund for more information and ideas on how you can be involved.

Jared Hernandez serves as the LULAC National Youth President. He first volunteered with LULAC Youth at the age of 14 in Galveston, Texas. Currently, he is a freshman studying political science at the University of North Texas. Check out more information on LULAC Youth by following @LULACYOUTH on Twitter.

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