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Youth on the Street in Light of the Supreme Court Ruling

The Supreme Court recognized dignity in all when it announced that LGBT couples have the right to marry. Let us hope that governments everywhere will someday address the issues of poverty in the same spirit. A disproportionate number of young people who end up on the streets identify as LGBT.

Commentary by Carol Denney

On Friday, June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court announced that LGBT couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. Households all over the nation celebrated, stiffened, or wondered what it means to their community and to history.

In the Bay Area, the Pride celebrations honor an historical moment as the nation’s acceptance of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender (LGBT) community members deepens and strengthens at what was once considered an impossible pace.

Across the nation in small communities without an organized LGBT presence, LGBT as well as questioning individuals in hostile workplaces and family settings enjoy a small but powerful moment of support which might help save their lives.

The prejudice against LGBT individuals in deeply conservative states can be life-threatening.

It is no accident that approximately 40 percent of the homeless youth served by agencies identify as LGBT, according to a national report in 2012 by the Williams Institute, a think tank at the UCLA School of Law.

And this number may be considered an undercount because of the continued existence in some regions of severe stigma attached to being gay, or even responding as such to a survey.

Some young people, when they find and embrace their sexuality, find themselves rejected by their families, religious connections, workplaces, and communities. A disproportionate number end up on the streets.

Many young people end up on the street when they are rejected or driven away due to their sexual orientation.

Many young people end up without a home when they are rejected or driven away due to their sexual orientation. A disproportionate number of LGBT youth end up on the streets.


Nearly 70 percent of young people say that physical and sexual abuse as a child, neglect, and other violent crimes happening in their homes played a role in having become homeless, according to Safe Horizon. It is worth keeping this fact in mind when one hears the hostility toward poor, homeless, and nomadic travelers sometimes fashionable in political and business circles. As hostile and dangerous as the streets can be, they can look like a more sensible alternative, even to a child, than a life of abuse.

The Supreme Court’s majority recognized dignity in all human beings and the deep connections between us all on June 26. Let us hope that governing bodies everywhere will someday address issues of poverty in the same spirit.

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