Homeless youth are one of the demographics most in need of support. Unlike those who become homeless later in life, homeless teens lack the adult life skills to function on their own. They’re also a more at-risk group; in addition to their age, many are BIPOC or part of the LGBTQ community. The more marginalized their identity, the more likely these kids are to be treated badly or harmed by others. Here’s how to support homeless youth and make a positive impact on your community.
Protect Queer Youth
This initiative starts before the teens become homeless. A staggering 40 percent of homeless youth are queer; conversely, LGBTQ teens make up only 7 percent of the total American youth population. This difference is indicative of the discrimination queer and trans youth still face, largely from parents, teachers, and peers.
Because of this lack of support, queer and trans teens are much more likely than their cisgender, heterosexual peers to run away from home or be kicked out by their parents. Pushing for acceptance and protection for LGBTQ youth in your area is essential to minimizing the number of kids living on the street.
Donate What You Can
Shelters are always looking for high-demand items, such as winter coats and new jeans. Meals or non-perishable food items are also often in demand. Check your local shelter: they likely have a list of items available online.
There are also nonprofit organizations created specifically to provide resources and support to homeless teens. Some, like Stand Up For Kids, are more general, while others like True Colors United work specifically with queer youth.
Get Political: Use Your Vote
Voting is one of the best ways to protect homeless and queer teens long-term. Oppose anti-homeless architecture—often disguised as city “upgrades”— and vote against anti-homeless bills. Support building safe shelters and structures for homeless individuals. As 3D printing progresses, options like 3D printed housing become more plausible. This is just one of the potential future implications of 3D printing.
If you want to impact your community, stand up and use your voice. Change won’t happen unless we make it happen—that’s why it’s so important to support homeless youth and other marginalized groups.
Emilie St. John is a freelance journalist who appears weekly in the Los Angeles Wave newspaper and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.