Members of the LGBTQ community have had much to celebrate in recent years. Gay marriage has been legalized and acceptance of this matter has grown. While this is a great triumph for this community, there are still many disparities within this community that need to be addressed and corrected. Across the US, LBGT youth have become highly susceptible to homelessness and make up almost half of the homeless youth population.
Members of the LGBTQ community struggle with many challenges that most other people will never have to deal with. They fall victim to fierce discrimination in school, the workplace and feel marginalized. They feel apart from and sadly, some even feel this same prejudice from their own family. According to the Homeless Youth Census, conducted in Washington D.C., 43 percent of the homeless youth in the US identify as being gay, bisexual or transgender.
Homeless Youth and Drug Abuse
Many LGBTQ teens who come out to their parents, or are exposed without their permission, are kicked out and left with nothing. Problems with homelessness takes a serious toll on anyone, especially a child. Growing up in such scarce conditions has contributed to the homeless youth experiencing increased risks of sexual abuse, drug addiction, discrimination and social stigma.
Growing up with this economic instability greatly lowers their chances at receiving a formal education, which leaves them with a much smaller chance of attaining a livable wage. This lack of means and the simple need to survive lead many LGBTQ youth to engage in illegal means of making money, like prostitution.
Drug abuse is a very prevalent issue within the LGBTQ community and is even more so in the homeless population. Studies have shown that alcohol and drug abuse in the LGBTQ community exceeds two to three times that of the general population. We have seen far too many acts of hate towards the LGBTQ community, which leaves many with feelings of loneliness, depression, and severe anxiety.
Many resort to abusing drugs to cope with these feelings. Crystal meth has become especially pervasive in the LGBT community. Amongst gay men, reports show they are over 12 times more likely to abuse the drug than the general population. They are also nine times more likely to abuse heroin. The LGBTQ youth also start abusing drugs at a younger age than their peers, especially if they are left alone on the streets.
Lack of Acceptance from Family Members
An ongoing influence on the homelessness issue within the LGBT community has been the hypocrisy on the part of the parents. Many LGBTQ teens who come out to their parents, or are exposed without their permission, are kicked out and left with nothing. They will preach love and tolerance to all people regardless of their beliefs, background, ethnicity or sexual preference but when all of that applies to their own child, they panic and become judgmental. This isn’t just a hiccup in judgment, it is a life-threatening moment for their child. This type of wrongful behavior on the part of the parents can and will cause a dangerous pattern within a young person’s life and we all need to practice these same principles we tell our kids in all of our affairs. Everyone is created the same and we should treat them as such.
Mainstream Media Acceptance
There have been numerous stories in today’s media concerning members of the LGBT community in the mainstream media. The transformation from Bruce Jenner into Kaitlyn Jenner has become one of the largest tabloid stories in the world and shocked many. Believing that all-star Olympian was now undergoing a sex change, was a hard pill to swallow for many. Since then, Jenner has spoken publicly about his transformation and the positive impact it has had on his life. His story has motivated others to speak up and he has received national attention for his willingness to speak up on his own past struggles and his decision to make a change.
Last year, Men’s Health magazine featured a transgender man on their cover. This was a major change for the popular lifestyle magazine. This decision could by some means, even question how we truly define what a man is and crosses across previous social norms. Other achievements in film have marked some other milestones for the LGBTQ community.
The new Emmy-nominated series Transparent on Amazon, tells the story of a middle-aged man who comes out to his family about being transgender and illustrates the major changes that happen within the family dynamic. The Oscar-winning Imitation Game, recounts the true story of a brilliant mathematician who helped defeat Germany in WWII. Unfortunately, they later imprisoned him for homosexuality.
LGBTQ Advocacy Groups
While this country has celebrated much progress in the field of LGBTQ rights, there is still much to take care of in respect to eliminating stigma. Many organizations have put forth donations to help homeless youth in the US and push to further help this issue. The True Colors Fund is a nonprofit striving to end the homelessness issue among LGBTQ youth, creating an atmosphere where they can feel truly excepted. They work in the areas of public engagement, youth programs, public policy and research to advocate the LGBTQ youth. The Lost N Found Youth is another nonprofit that helps take LGBT youth off of the streets and transitions them into permanent housing. Additionally, they provide mental health evaluations, counseling, referrals for HIV and STD testing, educational resources and vocational training.
There are many other advocacy groups, which help LGBTQ youth along the lines of crisis prevention. The Trevor Project commits themselves providing suicide prevention services to the LGBTQ youth, a large social network community, and advocacy initiatives. Organizations like these provide support to those in the LGBTQ community who are struggling with social prejudices and give them the help they need to keep moving forward.
There are far too many members of the young LGBTQ community whose families kicked them to the streets and acceptance of LGBTQ youth within the family unit still remains a problem in the US. Fortunately, widespread acceptance has found its way to the mainstream, reminding these individuals that they are never alone. This has given hope to those who’ve stayed in hiding and given them the strength to be open about who and what they really are, allowing them to live the kind of lives they always wanted.
Everybody deserves the equal chance at a happy and fulfilling life, regardless of their sexual orientation. Morningside Recovery offers LGBTQ substance abuse treatment and is among the leading addiction treatment providers in the country. Many people in the LGBT community also struggle with mental health disorders due to stressful home environments or backlash from the community. As a leader in dual diagnosis treatment, Morningside Recovery also offers mental health treatment services such as:
Finally, if you or a loved one are struggling with addiction and in need of help, please don’t hesitate to call. You may reach us anytime at 855-631-2135. Our treatment specialists will answer any questions you may have and are will help you find the right treatment option for you.