There is a sad reality in America today… one that I didn’t know much about until recently. There are thousands of LGBT teens on the streets. And why? They’ve been kicked out of their homes. Sadly, many have come from a Christian background, and are now turning away from Christianity as a whole. And you don’t have to look far to find out exactly why; their Christian parents kicked them out, thinking they would return home straight. According to Kathie Hynes, many of these teens are turning to drugs or having sex for money. Unfortunately, this is an epidemic that continues to grow. Did you know that in Los Angeles, 45% of the entire homeless population identifies as LGBT youth? New York is right behind that at 40%. Those statistics were unimaginable for me! What is even more unimaginable is that this could be avoided if the Church community at large would educate themselves on the topic of homosexuality. What if those parents had reacted in love?—not the “tough love” they believe they are enforcing by alienating their child—but pure, perfect, Christ-like love?
Here is a very comprehensive report, published by the National Coalition for the Homeless, that was written in 2009. It’s definitely worth a look. Transgendered individuals are at the highest risk, because they are often forced to choose a gender with which they do not identify. Sometimes, they are banned from homeless shelters altogether. Over half of the LGBT homeless youth population have been sexually victimized in some way. Additionally, they experience a higher risk of developing mental illnesses, practicing unsafe sex, experiencing sexual violence, and committing suicide.
Meanwhile, the Church majority ignores the LGBT homelessness issue, and continues to condemn and judge these children. In many instances, some church leaders are the ones urging parents to exhibit “tough love” to their gay children. Imagine with me for a moment that within the Church body as a whole, there is no judgment; no animosity; no condemnation for our LGBT community. How many homeless LGBT teens could benefit from an accepting spiritual community? The truth is, there are thousands of churches across the nation that have taken a stand. Although it’s gradual, I believe there really is a great gay awakening among our places of worship. We must fight for more than mere tolerance; we need a common goal of love and acceptance. And we can all do that. Even if you come from an ultra-conservative, fundamentalist background, and your opinion on the topic of homosexuality is set in stone, you can still love on people. There is no one on this earth that we are incapable of loving through Christ. And there is no one on this earth who doesn’t need that pure, unconditional love.
So, in closing, what can we do about this nationwide epidemic? As with all things, we must begin in our own cities and towns. Find out if there is an organization in your community for aiding LGBT homeless youth. If there’s not, why not start one? Change begins exactly where we are.