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Left Behind: LGBT Homeless Youth Struggle to Survive on the Streets

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NEW YORK – A yellow cab creeps along a desolate Manhattan street, following Aludein Marks and a friend on a cold spring night. Marks, a teen who identifies as a transgender female, knew what the driver wanted—sex—but she wasn’t doing that work anymore. The cabbie trailed her for several minutes before finally driving off. “This life, it gets depressing,” said Marks, a soft-spoken 19-year-old who goes by the name Diamond. In the last year, she had experienced periods of homelessness, sleeping at a park, friends’ places and shelters after fighting with her mother over a number of issues, including her romantic interest in men and her gender identity. (Diamond’s mother declined comment). Despite the gains made for gay rights in recent years, homeless LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) youth have benefited little. Instead, their numbers on the streets have swelled, representing up to an estimated 40 percent of the nation’s young adult homeless population, data shows. In many cases, LGBT youth choose or are forced to leave home because their families don’t accept them. Once homeless, they are exposed to the perils of street life: violence, survival sex, and, in some cases, HIV. Read more here.

Responses: George Takei and Perez Hilton shared the story with their followers, Takei on Facebook (where he has 7.4 million followers) and Hilton on Twitter (where he has 6 million). Dozens of LGBT advocacy groups, civil rights activists and several U.S. government agencies shared it, too, on social media. The story got several thousand Facebook shares and tweets. A few comments: Ford Foundation: “Gripping report,” and Liz Winstead, co-creator of The Daily Show; “Important story.” Also GLAAD did a post on it and the Transgender Law Center called it “great reporting.”

 

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