Growing up, Stephanie remembers having crushes on girls. She once told her mom that she wanted to marry her best friend and her mother told her that the devil made her say that. She never told her mom about her crushes on girls again.
In middle school Stephanie started to experience bullying because she wasn't like most girls. The bullying became so unbearable that she started skipping school. She became withdrawn and depressed. Throughout the following years the family rejection and bullying at school persisted. By high school, Stephanie was failing all of her classes, dealing with anxiety and started thinking about suicide.
Stephanie found some solace when she met a girl like her at school. They two became quick friends. Her friend was open about her identity which pushed Stephanie to come out as well. When she did, her entire world changed. She came home one day to find her belongings on the steps of her home. She knew what it meant and she didn't even try to reason with her mother.
More than 80% of LGBTQ youth report bullying as a daily occurrence in their schools and about half of them skip school to avoid the bullying. As a result, LGBTQ youth are more likely to be unengaged and academically challenged at school. Tragically, LGBTQ youth are 8 times more likely to be homeless than non LGBTQ youth.
Stephanie's road to AFC was a difficult one that involved sleeping on the streets, doing drugs, and other dangerous things to survive. She was connected to our Drop In Center by one of our Street Outreach Workers. She was immediately offered a warm meal, new clothing and access to a shower. She was able to find a spot in our overnight program that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
She's working on building a new life for herself. Although she's been through much hardship on the streets, she says that nothing has been worse for her than to not being able to see her mom and family. We're working with her to heal from that pain through our mental health services. Stephanie has a bright future ahead but the loss of her mother's love will always be painful for her.