Bills Seeks to Aid, Provide Services for LGBT Homeless Youth

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LGBT homeless teens won’t be discriminated against by federally funded homeless shelters, if a recently introduced House bill is signed into law later this year.

Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan, one of the few gay members of the U.S. House of representatives, introduced the legislation, named the “Runaway & Homeless Youth Act.”

If passed, the bill would amend 2008’s “Reconnecting Homeless Youth Act,” which is up for reauthorization this year, to include a number of LGBT-friendly provisions.

Besides mandating that shelters take in gay teens, the bill would require them to “have the cultural competency to serve these youth,” according to the Washington Blade.

It would also ask the Family and Youth Service Bureau at the Department of Health to compile data on the pervasiveness on LGBT youth homelessness to help solve the problem.

“Homelessness is one of the most pressing matters affecting LGBT youth,” Pocan said in a statement. “Young people in the LGBT community are disproportionately at-risk for homelessness, often as a result of the rejection, discrimination, or violence they face simply for being themselves.”

A 2012 report made by The True Colors Fund and the Williams Institute asserted that 94 percent of U.S. youth service providers serve LGBT youth, which comprises up to 40 percent of the homeless population.

Congress will discuss the bill when it comes back from its summer recess. Sergio N. Candido

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