The Homestretch
Featured Media Resource: [VIDEO]: Focus on LGBTQ Youth Homelessness: Film Module | The Homestretch (PBS Learning Media)
This is a short film module adapted from The Homestretch, as seen on PBS’s Independent Lens, about youth homelessness, with a focus on LGBTQ youth. For more information about The Homestretch, visit the Independent Lens website.

Do Now

If you were mayor, what program would you develop in your city to support homeless LGBTQ youth? #DoNowHomeless

How to Do Now

Do Now by posting your response on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, Flickr, Google +, etc. Be sure to include #DoNowHomeless.

Go here for more tips for using Do Now, using Twitter for teaching, and using other digital tools.

Learn More About LGBTQ Teens and Homelessness

According to Homeless Children America, 1 out of 30 young people is homeless. That’s a total of 2.5 million homeless youth in every city, county and state in this country. Of those, about 40% identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Queer (LGBTQ). A survey conducted by the Williams Institute claims: “Family rejection on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity was the most frequently cited factor contributing to LGBT homelessness,” among others.

Kasey, from the documentary The Homestretch, Kasey struggles to find a place to call home after being thrown out of the house when she came out as a lesbian.Photo from The Homestretch
Kasey, from the documentary The Homestretch, Kasey struggles to find a place to call home after being thrown out of the house when she came out as a lesbian.

 

When you don’t have a place to call home or a support structure, as teens from the film The Homestretch suggest, you must adapt and think about how to make it by yourself.

Imagine what experience would be like—to be homeless and have to adapt to making it on your own. You would need to find a shelter to sleep at if there’s room for you, or, find materials and a place to sleep in the street. You would need to locate a place to wash up, clean your clothes, go to the bathroom, and, have toiletries, clothing, water and access to food. Finding safety and trust is both a short and long term goal, while battling depression from feeling rejection is a daily occurrence.

Many LGBTQ teens wind up homeless, most often due to family rejection. Because of the lack of safety or support provided by most shelter systems to specifically serve this population, many will find themselves becoming homeless many times over. Most shelters are separated by sex, which creates a potentially dangerous environment for transgender youth. Often, LGBTQ teens must adapt from home to safe space, replace family with a supportive community or peers, and find acceptance and belonging in a new terrain.

There is a growing awareness of the need for specialized services and homes designed to support LGBTQ homeless youth in many cities. Specific examples would be Lyric in San Francisco, Casa Ruby in Washington, DC and the Ali Forney Center in New York City. These resources, however, are still scarce and the need is growing. Before Casa Ruby opened in 2012, it was estimated that there were over 100 LGBTQ homeless youth in Washington, DC on any given night, and only eight beds specifically for them.

After watching the short film module above from The Homestretch, think about how you would adapt if you were young, LGBTQ and homeless. What would you need? What kind of support would help the most?  What services or resources are in your local community? What programs exist specifically targeted at homeless LGBTQ youth? What’s missing that these young people might need? Do some research to see what’s out there and share what you find.

More Resources

AUDIO: Casa Ruby is a chosen family for trans people who need a home (Morning Edition, NPR)
This story is part of an occasional series about individuals who don’t have much money or power but do have a big impact on their communities. The story focuses on Ruby Corado, a  45-year-old transgender woman in Washington, D.C., who is now trying to help others along the difficult path by opening a special shelter for LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness.

VIDEO: Lyric (produced by Bay Area Video Coalition)
A look at Bay Area organization LYRIC’s mission to build community and inspire positive social change through education enhancement, career trainings, health promotion, and leadership development with LGBTQ youth, their families, and allies of all races, classes, genders, and abilities. Part of BAVC The Factory’s Summer 2013 Community Filmmaking Project.

VIDEO: Larkin Street Youth Services Agency Video
Larkin Street in San Francisco offers a wide range of services for homeless and at-risk youth, ages 12-24. From emergency and transitional housing to education and employment, to health and well-being, their programs are designed to get kids off the street for good. This video tells the stories of four of their clients, and how they’ve changed their lives and gotten on the path to self-sufficiency.

REPORT: Serving the Needs of Our Youth: The Needs and Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Youth Experiencing Homelessness (Williams Institute)
This report summarizes findings from the 2014 LGBTQ Homeless Youth Provider Survey, a survey of 138 homelessness human service agency providers conducted from March 2014 through June 2014 designed to better understand homelessness among LGBTQ youth.

LESSON PLAN: Homelessness: Using Technology and Social Media (The Graduates, Independent Lens, PBS)
In this youth action plan, students will investigate how homelessness can be an obstacle to success for some youth, and examine how technology and social media can be powerful tools for raising awareness and sharing information in a dynamic way. They will explore different websites and apps and how to maximize their usefulness.

Do Next

Do Next takes the online conversation to the next level: these are suggestions for ways to go out into your community and investigate how the topic featured in this Do Now impacts people’s lives. Use digital storytelling tools and social media to share your story and take action. Make sure to tag your creations with #DoNowHomeless.

1) Create an Infographic:  Using a free online infographic tool such as piktochart or easel.ly, create a data visualization that illustrates the issues faced by LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. Here is an example for inspiration: Preventing the Tragedy of LGBT Youth Homelessness.

2) Create a Resource Map:  Using a free mapping tool like one of these featured in this blog post called “The 5 Best Free Map Creation Tools for Teachers,” create a map that lists all of the resources for homeless youth in your community.

  • Nakia Hartley

    I think the story was amazing. It opened my eyes to a situation that I can only imagine experiencing and opened my heart to wanting to do all I can do to make a difference in young people’s lives. After being exposed to the documentary I now want to look into starting an organization, foundation, or even just a small little program to make a difference. Who really knows what a person goes through on a day to day basis when they have no one that loves or cares for them like they deserve. What a life changing story!

    • Thank you for sharing your feedback, @nakiahartley:disqus ! This inspires us to keep sharing these kinds of stories with students around the country.

  • Hunter C

    If I was the mayor, I would have a program to specifically help LGBTQ homeless people because people should not be judged based on sexual orientation. #HCW1516

  • GK

    I had no idea that kids were being thrown out of their homes for coming out to their family. Families who have perfectly good homes and kicking their children out based on sexual orientation. I just cannot imagine being thrown out of my home and being in their shoes for one day. As Nakia said, it really opened my eyes and we should really help these kids lead a better life even with their differences.

    • It sounds like you are a pretty empathetic person, GK. Thanks for sharing!

  • Sydney

    I was not aware that the reason that some youths are homeless are because they were thrown out of their homes for coming out. I do not understand why it matter what sexual orientation your children have, since they are still your children. This article really made me aware of how bad the homeless LGBTQ youths live their lives, and I think that we should do something to help them and change this awful thing.

    • Thanks for sharing your perspective, Sydney! I’m glad to hear the story had an impact on you and motivated you to want to help.

    • Kendall

      I agree 100% with you, Sydney. I never realized that people who are homeless were thrown out or rejected from their homes because of their sexual orientation. I does not think it matters what gender you like, because we are all human and deserve to be loved.

  • PZamani

    I am so happy to have come across this amazing story. I honestly had no clue that people were being thrown out of their houses from people, who are supposed to love and care for them, and they are being thrown out for such a sad reason. These young children are being ridiculed by their own family, just because they want to love the same gender. I believe that no matter what, people should be able to express themselves; so why can’t these young individuals be accepted for who they are. Hearing Kasey’s story made me so sad, all I could think about was how can they just be okay with themselves throwing out a young and beautiful person, just because she loves the same gender. I hope all these young and beautiful people realize that they are amazing, and deserve everything that makes them happy.

Author

Bay Area Video Coalition

BAVC inspires social change by empowering media makers to develop and share diverse stories through art, education and technology.

BAVC's goal is to help young adults gain experiences and opportunities that create pathways leading to media arts careers and post-secondary education. BAVC programs teach technical and “soft” skills (presentation skills, job interview skills, interpersonal skills) students need to successfully collaborate and produce high-quality creative products and professional portfolios. Tailored to each participant’s interests, BAVC’s pathway model helps young adults use media as a tool for self-expression and discovery in pursuit of expanded education and employment opportunities.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor