Singer Cyndi Lauper launched today the Forty to None Project, a national program to raise awareness about LGBT youth homelessness and help end it.
In a press release, Lauper tells the story that inspired the project's name: it comes from the number of LGBT homeless youth. Up to 1.6 million youth who are homeless each year, 40 percent identify as LGBT. Lauper says she wants that number to be "none".
While doing a photoshoot in New York City, Lauper met a group of homeless LGBT teens.
“The youth on the pier that day told me story after story of exclusion, of rejection and of pain. As a mother, I can’t ever imagine throwing my child away. I can’t imagine kicking a kid out of my house. I can’t imagine rejecting a person who is, literally, a part of me.”
According to her, almost half of the nation’s homeless youth are gay.
“The disparity suggests that gay and transgender youth stand a much higher chance of becoming homeless because of abuse, neglect and familial rejection due to sexual orientation or gender identity that drive them to the streets.
“The kids on the Christopher Street Pier that day, and the other gay and transgender youth living on the streets who make up the 40% have done nothing wrong, other than being born the way they were supposed to be. And because of who they are, these kids have been forced to leave their homes, subjected to abuse or worse.”
During its first five years, Forty to None is set to work to drive down those statistics through education, advocacy at the state and federal levels, improving services to LGBT homeless people, and “empowering homeless gay and transgender youth themselves with valuable resources and information.”
“Those kids on the pier opened my eyes, and I’ve made it my mission to open everybody else’s. There’s no shortage of organizations focused on ending homelessness or addressing the needs of homeless youth—but everything we’ve learned over the past year has made it clear that runaway and homeless gay and transgender youth are being left behind. These kids, even more than others, have not received the attention, resources and support that they so desperately need.”