May 18, 2021 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

LGBTQ Foster Youth In L.A. Falling Through The Cracks

A topic that has not garnered as much attention as it should is that of foster youth in Los Angeles especially LGBTQ foster youth that then become homeless. 

According to the Los Angeles LGBT Center up to 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ and one of the primary hardships that they face is discrimination based off of their sexual orientation. 

Santerous Colbert and John Cumper, both USC students pursuing masters of social work, are passionate about bringing more attention to this issue inspiring them to pursue social justice reform in graduate school. 

Colbert was brave enough to share some of his experience with The Pride LA, describing his experience as an LGBTQ person who went through the foster system and how hard it was to transition to independent living. “I honestly didn’t know anything about a transitional living program upon leaving foster care. My foster sister informed me of the benefit and I was advised to reach out to my ILP coordinator. Nervous and anxiety played a huge part due to me moving out of my hometown area. However, it allowed me to adjust to my new environment of living and build meaningful and resourceful connections and relationships with people. Some of which I still have to this day.” Colbert continued how he overcame those obstacles, “I acknowledged that I didn’t have the power to change my troubled past. Instead, I channeled my energy into my education and set goals for my self. The challenges I faced (i.e. homeless, incarceration, gay bashing etc) allowed me to see these components as my greatest strengths rather than weakness. My motivational factor was ‘There is power in testament and solution in struggle.’”

Like Colbert many of these youth face several issues when transitioning out of the foster care system and into independent living. Some ultimately become homeless because of these issues. 

Because of the discrimination that LGBTQ homeless youth face, they must struggle daily to meet their survival needs, such as attending to personal hygiene and finding food and shelter. Not to mention the toll that having to live on the streets takes. The vulnerability of living on the streets can be damaging both physically and emotionally. 

Youth, aged 15-24, that identify as LGBTQ have a higher chance (120%) of becoming homeless than those of their heterosexual peers. It is estimated that half of youth aging out of foster care are homeless within 18 months. 

The stigma associated with homeless LGBTQ youth explains why most are battling depression and struggling with deteriorating mental health. It is this very discrimination and bigotry that has led to many of these youth being ostracized by their families and ending up on the streets without any other options. 

Despite their situation and overwhelming obstacles, the majority of LGBTQ foster youth stay hopeful and look forward to changing their current situation in life. However some of these youth find themselves fighting addictions while others are broken and on the verge of giving up because of the circumstances they face daily. According to a study from The American Academy of Pediatrics attempted suicide for LGBTQ youth attempt was 20% greater than that of heterosexual youth. 

Colbert also struggled in that regard and when asked what message he had for the current foster/homeless youth that identify as LGBTQ he said, “Don’t give up and allow your circumstances to overcome you. Understand that you won’t go through turmoil forever. Seek therapy if needed and connect with those who will provide you a positive environment to grow from.” He continued, “You have a story to tell and you must go through what you are going through to tell it. Think about the little boy and little girl that’s not here yet. He or she will need your story!”

Los Angeles is taking steps to find solutions to these issues. The LA County Department of Children and Family Services partnered with current and former homeless LGBTQ youth members of the LA County Trans and Queer Youth of Color Task-force to incorporate input and feedback that is informed by firsthand experience. 

In return the Task Force recommended a set of seven implementations:

(1) make the Task Force funded, permanent and official; (2) invest more in LGBTQ programs for under-served communities; (3) train departmental staff to be more receptive of sexual orientation and gender identity expression; (4) review established policy to ensure departmental compliance; (5) develop employment programs for LGBTQ youth; (6) utilize definitive terms and plain language to increase informational access for youth; (7) close youth prisons and instead fund community-based alternatives to youth incarceration.

Hopefully these recommendations will be put into place and they will help the city of Los Angeles put an end to foster youth who become homeless, especially those that identify as LGBTQ. 

Related Posts

Skittles Gives Up Rainbow For Pride

May 15, 2021

May 15, 2021

As Pride season approaches, Skittles has announced that it will be giving up it’s rainbow again because “only one rainbow...

Instagram Has Finally Added Pronouns

May 15, 2021

May 15, 2021

In an effort to be more inclusive the popular social media platform Instagram has finally introduced pronouns on user profiles. ...

Club Cobra, A North Hollywood Gay Bar, Uses OnlyFans To Its Advantage

May 15, 2021

May 15, 2021

Club Cobra, a North Hollywood gay bar, is using the popular OnlyFans site to its advantage amidst the pandemic.  Since...

2021 Pride Announces “Thrive With Pride” Theme

May 15, 2021

May 15, 2021

LA Pride has announced its 2021 pride theme this year called “Thrive With Pride”.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in...

Ellen DeGeneres Ending 18 Year Talk Show

May 13, 2021

May 13, 2021

After more than 3,000 episodes and 19 seasons it is confirmed that Ellen DeGeneres is ending her talk show The...

Stoli Vodka’s Harvey Milk Collector’s Edition Bottle

May 13, 2021

May 13, 2021

In honor of Pride 2021 Stoli Vodka has launched a limited edition Harvey Milk collectors edition bottle.  On Harvey Milk...

Demi Lavato Comes Out As Pansexual- E.P.I.C Pride Show, May 12th, 2021

May 11, 2021

May 11, 2021

E.P.I.C Pride, Highlighting the latest LGBTQ news in Entertainment, Politics, International affairs, and Culture. – Demi Lavato Comes Out As...

Trunks Bar In WeHo Officially Open

May 9, 2021

May 9, 2021

With Covid vaccinations on the rise in the state of California many businesses have begun reopening including WeHo gay bar...

Celebrate National Masturbation Month

May 9, 2021

May 9, 2021

May is National Masturbation Month with National Masturbation Day, also known as International Masturbation Day being celebrated on May 7th. ...

WeHo Celebrates Asian American History Month

May 9, 2021

May 9, 2021

With Covid hate crimes on the rise against Asian Americans on the rise WeHo Reads 2021 season is Creating Hollywood...

Patrick O’Connell, AIDS Activist, Dead At 67

May 6, 2021

May 6, 2021

Patrick O’Connell, a venerable AIDS activist and creator of the iconic red ribbon creating awareness about the disease, has died...

WeHo Celebrating ‘Senior Month’

May 6, 2021

May 6, 2021

For more than two decades, the City of West Hollywood has organized an annual series of activities to engage its...

Los Angeles Becomes First No-Kill City For Animals – E.P.I.C Pride Show, May 5th, 2021

May 4, 2021

May 4, 2021

E.P.I.C Pride, Highlighting the latest LGBTQ news in Entertainment, Politics, International affairs, and Culture. – Los Angeles Becomes First No-Kill...

Byron Lane Helping Young Men Understand Testicular Cancer With “Nuts & Bolts”

May 2, 2021

May 2, 2021

Hollywood author playwright, screenwriter and testicular cancer survivor Byron Lane wants to educate young men about testicular cancer.  Testicular cancer...

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony For “OUT on Robertson”

May 2, 2021

May 2, 2021

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Saturday May 1st to commemorate the newest OUT on Robertson program in West...