On November 1st, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced an immediate suspension of the enforcement of protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, sex and religion in all HHS grants. HHS is the source of federally-funded runaway and homeless youth shelters, and one consequence of today's announcement is that it allows our nation's youth shelters, many of which are operated by religious organizations, to discriminate at will against homeless LGBTQ youth.
Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center, the nation's largest organization dedicated to homeless LGBTQ youths, says:
"It is repulsive that the Trump/Pence administration will allow homeless youth shelters to discriminate against LGBTQ young people.This heartless endorsement of bigotry constitutes a cruel and reckless attack on the safety and welfare of homeless LGBTQ youths, and will further endanger many desperately vulnerable young people."
In order to take action to protect homeless LGBTQ youth from such discrimination, we urge you to call your senator's office and urge them to support the
Equality Act, which would ensure that all federally-funded programs have nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans, including LGBTQ youth and young adults experiencing homelessness who receive services from RHY programs. Call (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak with your Senator about the Equality Act – or look up your Senator here.
This new license to discriminate will further imperil LGBTQ youth in the more conservative parts of our country, and will likely lead to even greater numbers of homeless youth journeying to accepting places such as New York City. Please consider making a donation to support the Ali Forney Center in housing and protecting these young people.