Homeless rates for LGBT teens are alarming, but parents can make a difference
By The Washington Post, 30 Mar 2017
Up to 1.6 million young people experience homelessness in the United States every year. Forty percent of them identify as LGBT, according to a 2012 study conducted by the Williams Institute at UCLA Law. It’s estimated that LGBT youth represent about 7 percent of the population, which puts that 40 percent figure into heartbreaking context. The study’s other findings are equally bleak: 46 percent of homeless LGBT youths ran away because of family rejection of their sexual orientation or gender identity; 43 percent were forced out by parents, and 32 percent faced physical, emotional or sexual abuse at home. “There are several reasons parents reject their LGBT youth,” said Telaina Eriksen, author of “Unconditional: A Guide to Loving and Supporting Your LGBTQ Child.” “Sometimes it is based on religion; they think that their child is a sinner or that their child needs to be punished so they see ‘the error of their ways.’ They might think if they force their child to leave their home, their child may return repenting, magically somehow no longer LGBT.” Eriksen, who is an assistant professor at Michigan State University added that sometimes one parent is more accepting than the other and that they might kick a child out of their home to please their spouse or partner. Or parents might think that an LGBT child makes them look bad to their peers. “These attitudes can be present in any race, religion or income bracket,” Eriksen said. She said that parents who reject their LGBT child need to do some work on themselves, because the problem is theirs, not their child’s.
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