Published June 29, 2017
It’s easy to overlook homelessness as an LGBTQ issue—despite the fact that 43 percent of homeless youth in Washington identify as such, according to DC’s 2016 Homeless Youth Census. The reasons why LGBTQ youth end up without stable living situations vary widely. Some are kicked out by their families because of their sexual orientation or gender presentation, others face discrimination at school or the workplace.
“It’s like society punishes [these homeless LGBT youth] in every way possible for being different. The punishment is no jobs, no access to resources, no beds,” says Ruby Corado, executive director of LGBTQ homeless youth organization Casa Ruby. “A big part of my job is to restore their pride and dignity. It’s to tell them—when the world tells them they are demons—that ‘baby, they’re wrong.’”
The biggest cause of homelessness, regardless of sexual orientation, is poverty. Contrary to popular beliefs, LGBTQ people are poorer than the straight population; they’re also more likely to be female and people of color. And despite DC’s reputation as one of the most socially progressive cities in the United States, tales of discrimination against homeless trans youth abound beneath the surface.
“I think that this city is really very harsh with homeless people in general, but when it comes to LGBT, particularly trans people, this city is very intolerant,” Corado says. “This intolerance really affects how they’re treated at home and why they end up in the streets. These LGBT youth in the welfare system end up in mental health facilities.”
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