The Columbus Coalition for the Homeless is hosting a free webinar this week about “LGBTQ+ Youth and Homelessness.”
This is the first time the organization is hosting an LGBTQ+ specific event, which seeks to explore factors that contribute to homelessness for youth who identify as LGBTQ+ and provide data and background information to highlight the issue. The webinar will also provide recommendations to help meet the needs of youth more effectively in the future.
Research has shown that LGBTQ+ youth are significantly more likely to experience homelessness due to a variety of factors. Among them are family rejection as a result of their sexual or gender identity, abuse, and neglect.
The ways LGBTQ+ youth experience homelessness are also different. When accessing services, they may face discrimination and harassment, and can even be asked to leave shelters. The Salvation Army, for example, has made headlines for refusing housing to transgender women in the past.
The webinar, scheduled for February 18th at 3:00pm, will explore the factors that contribute to LGBTQ+ youth homelessness, and include a panel of LGBTQ+ youth who will share their lived experiences with homelessness, including the unique challenges they have had to face.
“The youth have an unvarnished view of the system that is not tied to funding or politics,” said Keither McCormish, Director of the Columbus Coalition for the Homeless, on the value of hearing directly from those with lived experience.
The Columbus Coalition for the Homeless, the webinar’s host organization, fights homelessness through education, advocacy, and empowerment. Among their other services are a warming center with showers and laundry and distribution of personal protective equipment and hygiene products.
With the winter comes increased needs for the homeless. McCormish shared that shelters become busier, but the needs of the homeless extend beyond this. “Some folks won’t go into shelter for a variety of reasons, and I would say more funding is needed for drop-in centers and street outreach programs that have housing assistance resources available.”
The webinar will conclude with recommendations at the systemic level and at the community level for addressing the needs of LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness.
The event is co-sponsored by Kaleidoscope Youth Center and Star House. Erin Upchurch, executive director of Kaleidoscope says that events like are critical opportunities “for authentic conversations that will hopefully inform authentic solutions,” especially with an issue that is affecting so many LGBTQ+ youth.
“Youth homelessness, and homelessness in general, doesn’t have to be a thing,” Upchurch said. “Once we, as a community collectively commit to doing something different; that’s when we will begin to see radical and transformational change. Change with integrity starts with true prevention, early intervention, accessible and diverse funding; and perhaps most importantly remembering that these are actual lives; young lives, whose opportunities should not be tied up in policy and non profit dysfunction. We cannot continue to what we’ve always done.” 🔥