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Op-ed: LGBT homeless youth receive least attention

BY STACY GROMATSKI
STACY@FLORIDANETWORK.ORG

Invariably around the holidays, we all become wrapped up in the manifest joy of the season.

Beginning Thanksgiving Day, the spirit of family, the spirit of joy, the spirit of giving become the primary expressions of our gratitude for the abundance of the past year in the richest country in the world.

It’s also a time of singing, laughter, and reminiscence along with our favorite holiday tunes. Many TV shows animate the season: A Charlie Brown Christmas or A Christmas Story. Finally, there is the exchange of gifts, most profound connection with those whom we love and care for, whatever those who lament the commercialism of the holidays may say.

They protest too much: These are the staples of the common faith we share in the importance of fellow human feeling and the indelible acts of kindness and friendship. They allow us to overcome life’s often hard and uncaring ways.

However, something else tears against the spirit of the holidays, and it is happening all across America: More than 1.7 million youth are homeless.

For a variety of reasons, from family problems to emancipation from foster care, many of these young people have no place to go.

Often, they stay on the streets, at a friend’s or relative’s house or eventually find their way to one of many crisis shelters — the kind that the Florida Network is responsible for representing across the state’s 67 counties.

It goes without saying that this is our national tragedy.

Yet there’s a subgroup within that population of homeless youth receiving the least attention — lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth (LGBT). Between 9 percent and 45 percent of the homeless youth population are LGBT youth.

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