youth services field

The Gift of Giving

Today is #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Observed annually on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving in the U.S. and shopping events on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus their holiday and end-of-year giving. 

As an organization serving youth in crisis and those who provide vital services to this population, NSPN relies on gifts from individuals and corporate partners to ensure an effective system of response for youth across the United States. NSPN utilizes your donated goods, time, and funds to reach youth in need of help and safety. Many youth who seek our services are scared and alone, with no place to go. Others just need someone to listen. If your family is in-tact and the children in your lives have not experienced the fear of being bullied, the scarring that comes with abuse, or the hunger that comes with neglect, you and those children are incredibly fortunate. NSPN is there for each youth and family that experience these and many other issues that make life challenging. Without your contributions, NSPN simply would not have the opportunity to continue this necessary work.

Your dollars make a difference. Here are lives that have been impacted because someone like you cared and made a contribution.

Jayden - Being bullied.jpgJayden, 14, was being bullied by some of his peers at school. Every day as he walked home from school, the bullies would approach him and verbally abuse him and make threats against his life. Not sure where to turn or what to do, Jayden decided to ask for help at the local convenience store which displayed a Safe Place sign. Jayden spoke with counselors at the licensed Safe Place agency and they connected with his school counselor. The situation was handled appropriately and now Jayden feels safer walking home and has since felt comfortable making new friends.

Sarah - girl texting.jpgSarah, 17, utilized TXT 4 HELP (69866) when she realized she was thinking more about how to die than how to live. The professional counselors at the help line made a meaningful connection with Sarah and stayed with her via a call until the authorities reached her for support. Sarah told the counselors, “I didn’t really want to die, I just wanted help living.” Sarah continues to receive the counseling she needs to live a happier and healthier life.

Portrait Of Smiling Teenage Boy

Robert, 13, learned about Safe Place during a school presentation and decided to ask for help. He was suffering physical abuse at the hands of his step father and was living with his older cousins. After school one day, Robert went to the nearest Safe Place, a fire station, and asked for help. After speaking with agency staff, he decided to stay at the youth shelter. His mother left her husband after learning about the abuse. While at the shelter, Robert and his mother established goals and made a commitment to work on their communication with one another. Robert was reunified with his mother and now feels safe in his home.

Young black guy in red cap

Terrance, 16, had never felt accepted at home. Once he “came out” to his family as being gay, his father kicked him out and told him he was “dead” to them. Terrance attempted to find a place to live with friends but no one had the resources to support him while he worked to finish school. He was able to connect to a program of an NSPN member agency that offered independent living resources and support. Terrance now serves on a youth advisory board for that agency and is helping other youth learn how to give back to their community.

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NSPN shared resources on how to train staff and volunteers from a trauma-informed perspective. Staff were appreciative of the training when faced with a particularly challenging youth who was the survivor of years of abuse and neglect. The staff had learned how to support while maintaining safety. They also learned how to listen without feeling the need to have all of the answers. The youth maintained in the program and successfully completed her GED.

Help us continue to make difference in the lives of youth and families. Donate today at: www.tinyurl.com/nspndonation

Ways you can help:

  • Search the web and make purchases using Goodsearch / Goodshop: goodsearch.com/goodshop-invite/nspn-2219407. Each time you search the web using Goodsearch, you raise one cent per search for NSPN. Goodshop will also donate $5 to NSPN after your first purchase of $25 or more. Goodshop continues to make donations for following purchases.
  • Raise awareness! Here are some sample social media posts you can share on your page.

Twitter:

  • [Click here and save the Safe Place logo to your computer: http://bit.ly/1IwCEpD. Then, share it on your social media page with the following message!] Have you seen this sign? It’s the universal symbol for youth safety. Learn more at nationalsafeplace.org
  • I donated to @NSPNtweets! I’m helping to expand the safety net for youth. You can help at tinyurl.com/nspndonation #GivingTuesday

Facebook:

  • [Click here and save the Safe Place logo to your computer: http://bit.ly/1IwCEpD. Then, share it on your social media page with the following message!] Have you seen this sign? It’s the universal symbol for youth safety. @Safe Place is a national outreach and prevention program for youth in crisis. Any youth can go to any location that hangs this sign and seek help. Learn more and get involved: nationalsafeplace.org
  • Need to talk? @Safe Place is there to listen. Safe Place provides TXT 4 HELP, a texting service which gives youth the opportunity to connect with a mental health professional. If you’re a teen in trouble, need help, or just need someone to listen, text SAFE and your current location (address, city, state) to 69866. Within seconds, you will receive a message with the closest Safe Place location and contact number for the local youth shelter. After receiving this message, reply with 2CHAT to connect immediately with a professional. It’s quick, easy, safe and confidential. Learn more at: http://nationalsafeplace.org/text-4-help/
  • I donated to @National Safe Place Network! I’m helping to expand the national safety net for youth. You can help at tinyurl.com/nspndonation.

Being a Veteran in the RHY Field

By: TC Cassidy, MPA, M.Div., CYC-P, Director of Technical Assistance / HTR3 Project Director, RHYTTAC / National Safe Place Network

When I was asked to write this blog as a veteran of the United States military and the RHY field, I struggled to find a balance between recognizing military veterans and recognizing veterans of the RHY field.

In recognition of military veterans I can think of no better words than those spoken by President Barack Obama:

“For their service and sacrifice, warm words of thanks from a grateful nation are more than warranted, but they aren’t nearly enough. We also owe our veterans the care they were promised and the benefits that they have earned. We have a sacred trust with those who wear the uniform of the United States of America.” 

In recognition of “veterans” of the RHY field I have tried to string together some words that address your service with one of our country’s most vulnerable populations. I believe the reason many of us are “veterans” of the field is our core belief in the truth found in the words of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower:

“Fortunately for us and our world, young people are not easily discouraged. The hopes of the world rest on the fresh outlook of young people.”

Our service in the child and youth care field, with runaway and homeless youth, provides opportunities for children, youth and young adults accessing our services to “change the world” just as our 2015 National RHY Grantees Conference tagline states. Our service also gives us the opportunity to become “veterans” of the RHY field and to honor the service of “veterans” that have gone before us to guide our work.

Some of the veterans that come to mind for me are people the field has lost in recent years: Pamela Johnson, Mark Krueger, and Ron Mortenson. I was fortunate to know and learn from each of these “veterans”; I was fortunate to call them colleagues, mentors, and friends. I could write pages about the impact Pam, Mark, and Ron had on me and my work.

Other “veterans” of the field are going to be sitting in a room at the 2015 Runaway and Homeless Youth Grantees Conference in a few days. I am fortunate to call you colleagues, mentors, and friends. I look forward to meeting you there to continue our work to end youth homelessness and provide opportunities for youth to change the world.

I hope each of you find an opportunity to connect with a “veteran” of the field that has impacted your work – at conference, by phone, email, Skype, Twitter, Facebook – to let them know how they have influenced your work with children, youth, young adults and families.

A Personal Reflection on Leadership

Written by: Tammy Hopper, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer, National Safe Place Network & RHYTTAC

Writing about leadership is bizarre. If you write about something, you should know what you are writing about. If you profess to know a lot about leadership – or at least enough to write about it – does that mean that you are holding yourself out as a role model? In trying to determine the most accurate, though totally subjective, answer to my own question, I decided to think about the leaders I know or have known in my life. First, there was my mom. She led through a balance of compassion and control. My father led through years of hard work followed by years of stories of what he learned by working so hard. My first pastor, Brother Fred, was a Native American leading a small Christian church in rural Mississippi. He led by demonstrating that words of kindness may soothe but never eradicate the pain caused by words of hate. My high school English teacher led by gentle challenges to all of his students that you are never as accomplished today as you could be tomorrow. An early social work supervisor led by showing patience, persistence and passion – all while working with the kids rather than hanging out in the office. Each of these souls imprinted their form of leadership on the way I feel and think about the world. So, I wonder. Is this leadership? Is it impacting another in such a way that the other person is forever changed by the encounter? If so, can there be negative leaders? Surely, there are. If not, many of the warnings I received as a child were simply scare tactics meant to keep me on the straight and narrow (I think they worked to well.) I believe there are leaders who lead without ever realizing people are paying attention. I know there are leaders who use their skills and personal characteristics to gain more for themselves than they ever help others achieve. I think there are leaders who believe that they should be followed and who criticize those individuals who refuse to follow them. Luckily, I don’t work with these people. I don’t see any of these leaders in partnering organizations or in our membership. I haven’t spotted these leaders at our workshops or conferences. In our world, I see the other leaders. The ones who understand that a simple gesture of good will, an act of patience, a sharing of resources, a hug of support or a nod of validation can be critical. These leaders don’t look for THE moment to make a difference because they realize that EVERY moment is an opportunity to create change. John Quincy Adams said, “if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”. Our social service field is filled with leaders at all levels. Youth, professional youth care workers, managers, clinicians, executives, administrative staff, drivers, volunteers, cooks and receptionists – each spread ripples of positive impact in the streams in which they swim. I guess maybe the most often missed characteristics of leadership are humility and gratitude. I am learning to be a leader. Thanks to all of you who are learning with me.

Speaking of leadership – NSPN members and licensed Safe Place agency staff gathered in Savannah, Georgia last week (August 12-14, 2015) for the New Leadership Institute. Participants identified their leadership strengths and challenges, assessed leadership styles, developed skills, and learned new methods of decision-making. Stay tuned for details about upcoming NSPN leadership-focused events!

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Back to School

Written by: Shauna Stubbs, RHYTTAC Principal Investigator, National Safe Place Network

Some young people approach the beginning of a new school year with excitement and anticipation.  Perhaps they see this as a fresh start – an opportunity to experiment with identity development.  Maybe they have a sense of confidence from previous experience that their desirable position in the social hierarchy of school is secure.  Some could be finely tuned toward academic pursuits, eager to continue learning with the intention to avoid all the drama.

Others experience this ritual differently.  School can be merciless.  Many of our youth find themselves at higher risk than their peers for being bullied; having learning difficulties, substance abuse and mental health issues; and insecurity of resources to meet their basic needs.

On the other hand, school can be a strong protective factor for the young people whom we serve.  Every year a student continues to attend school after 7th grade decreases risk of teen pregnancy, incarceration, and other significant stumbling blocks.  And youth who are engaged in extra-curricular activities tend to improve their self esteem and develop positive social relationships.

So how can we help young people get the most benefit from school with the least risk of social trauma?

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL).  While SEL curricula are often designed for school implementation, there are opportunities to adapt these life skills training modules for use in RHY groups.  One example of an SEL life skill is mindfulness. Mindfulness is a way of being present and observing our experience while being aware that human beings are greater than our feelings, thoughts, and impulses.  Developing mindfulness is also a strategy in trauma-informed care.

Positive Youth Development (PYD).  The educational equivalent of what we know as PYD is Student-Centered Learning or Learner-Centered Education.  This approach challenges young people to learn more than content.  Students are encouraged to develop learning, critical thinking and problem-solving skills by practicing them.  Youth make choices about focus areas that align with their interests.  There are a number of ways this model can be implemented in schools to transform the educational environment, but individual youth in our care can benefit from opportunities to participate in decision making.  If we remember that every question is an opportunity to practice development, RHY staff can offer support to youth in seeking their own answers.

Reviewing Lessons Learned.  As young people in RHY programs are preparing to start a new school year, a life skills group could include discussions about previous successes, challenges or disappointments at school.  With supportive guidance, youth can consider possible alternatives and outcomes and determine how they might handle that situation differently if it happened again.  Young people in such a discussion can reality test their options with peers and learn from each other’s experience.

Providing Feedback.  According to Frank Kros, President of the Upside Down Organization (UDO) and evidence-informed child advocate, feedback for youth that is most likely to build self-efficacy and self-esteem focuses on three domains: effort, strategy, and perseverance.  Rather than telling young people they are smart, help them evaluate how pleasing or disappointing results were related to how hard they worked; what approach they used to read, study, take notes, etc.; and/or how persistent they were in overcoming obstacles and challenges.

Collaboration.  Develop partnerships with schools and other service providers in your communities.  Find ways to cooperate in building a local environment that fosters opportunity and supports learning.  Work together to advocate for effective education policy at the city, county, school board, state and federal levels.

Follow these links to school-related resources available from National Safe Place Network:

RHYTTAC McKinney-Vento and RHYA Programs: Partners for Student Success

NSPN The ABCs of Bullying (available through DOT for members with Training Center access)

Follow the links below for additional resources:

http://youthvoiceproject.com/yvpbriefsummaryDec2013.pdf

http://www.urbantech.org/

http://rippleeffects.com/ripple-effects-whole-spectrum-intervention-system/

http://www.upsidedownorganization.org/

Recommended Reading for Youth:

http://pbskids.org/itsmylife/school/middleschool/print_books.html

http://pbskids.org/itsmylife/school/highschool/print_books.html

Part Two of our “Brain Development” Series: The Brain and Crisis Situations

By: Robin Donaldson, Chief Operating Officer, Indiana Youth Services Association & NSPN Advisory Board member

What determines the individual responses in times of crisis? Why do some freeze and become incapable of responding while others seem to thrive and rise to the challenge in the face of threat? We can look to genetics and a person’s upbringing to determine the neural pathways established in the brain that dictate the varied ranges of response to crises.

In the center of the brain and seated in the limbic system lies a small structure known as the amygdala. The amygdala houses fearful or threatening memories and uses this information to access incoming information to determine potential threats and initiate the “fight or flight” response required to deal with those threats. While information from the amygdala can be sent to the prefrontal lobe for higher cognitive and emotional assessment, it is important to understand that the amygdala is designed to respond immediately to ensure survival.

Genetics will determine the initial sensitivity and response rate of the amygdala. Some individuals are prone to quick emotional responses due to the innate sensitivity of amygdala responsiveness influenced by levels of neurotransmitters and cellular structure.  Early upbringing can either enhance or moderate this heightened sensitivity.

Early environment is crucial to the cellular development and connectivity of the amygdala because newborns enter the world unable to regulate their emotional responses.  When responsive caregivers immediately respond to meet the needs of their newborn, they help establish neural pathways in the brain that allow the infant to begin to self-regulate and self-sooth in times of distress. Infants who have caregivers that are unresponsive lack the opportunity to establish these pathways for self-regulation.  When caregivers are abusive, infants miss opportunities to self-regulate and the initial responsiveness of the amygdala is increased to respond to the threat. Neglectful and abusive environments heighten emotional responses and reactivity and all new information is processed against those threatening memories. An overactive amygdala results in increased anxiety, fear, distrust and mood disorders.

These early patterns generally persist throughout life. While intervention can help moderate the emotional response and change behavioral patterns, in times of crises or in unfamiliar situations we tend to revert to earlier patterns. Certain environmental features or characteristics and mannerisms of others can trigger old fearful memories and initiate the crisis response. Understanding how a person’s stress response was established can help predict their future behavior in crisis situations.

This blog post is the second in a three-part series on brain development. Click here to read the first blog, “General Brain Development.” Stay tuned for the final blog post on brain development!

Avoiding Sparks: On the Road to Independence

By: April Carthorn, RHYTTAC General Specialist, National Safe Place Network

Homelessness is not a choice. Too often a young person’s decision to leave home is the healthiest (and only) option available to them. Some have no choice as they are forced from their homes at the hands of their guardians. Many flee because of issues such as family conflict, sexual orientation, poverty, abuse and neglect, while others may become entangled in substance abuse, gangs, and addiction problems.

Once a young person is homeless, it is very difficult to transition out. Age restrictions prevent many youth from accessing housing / shelters thus making it hard for them to connect with services to help end their homelessness. Transitioning youth also face barriers when trying to get their own housing. Paying rent and bills is virtually impossible with a part-time minimum wage job and many landlords will not rent to youth. Therefore, many youth are forced to remain hidden or move to the streets.

Without proper housing, food, and support systems, the health of a youth experiencing homelessness is at risk. Homeless youth have higher rates of HIV and other STIs and face a greater risk for developing anxiety and depression as compared to housed youth. It is difficult to grow into a healthy adult when you’re unhealthy, poorly nourished, and stressed.

While this paints a bleak picture, we can prevent youth homelessness by making sure young people know where to turn when their home is not safe. Most youth at risk of being homeless leave difficult home situations or age out of foster care to find themselves without a safe sanctuary, something we all need and appreciate. Everyone likes to come home and close the door behind them and feel safe. Many at-risk youth and young adults do not have this opportunity.

While most youth are resilient and want to move forward, there are a number of barriers for someone who is unprepared to be independent. Most youth who have aged out of care or have had to leave home lack experience in independence and therefore need a helping hand up. Searching for safe accommodations can be complicated, stressful, and hopeless if the youth / young adult is suffering from mental health concerns such as depression, stress disorders, substance abuse, and a history of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse.

What You Can Do To Help Avoid the Sparks:

Many youth / young adults ages 18-24 tend to take increased risk to figure out which career, educational, and financial path they want to pursue. Being a supportive ally can help foster a positive transition into adulthood and provide young people a chance to explore opportunities, develop financial independence, and create healthy, lifelong relationships.

  • Empower youth to make decisions. Youth / young adults have often been left out of critical decisions made about their lives. It is important to allow the young person take charge of his or her own future while you listen, help guide, and support. During daily interactions, provide youth with frequent opportunities to make decisions and to learn from consequences, both positive and negative.
  • Communicate high expectations. Far too often, youth / young adults have heard more about their limitations than about what they can achieve. Send positive messages about future possibilities. Offer forward-looking comments into everyday conversation. For example, use phrases such as “when you go on to college…” or “when you start your own business…” as opposed to phrases like “if you go to college.”
  • Start early. Find ways to introduce important concepts to younger youth. For example, talk with a pre-teens about the value of education and saving for long-term goals.
  • Decrease control and increase youth responsibilities gradually. While allowing youth to make choices, be clear about boundaries. Involve youth in setting rules and establishing appropriate consequences related to their behavior. Allow young people to learn and practice adult life skills with your support.
  • Help to identify at least one reliable, caring adult in a young person’s life who can serve as a stable, ongoing connection and can provide support pre-and-post-transition into adulthood.
  • Encourage the development of positive peer support networks through participation in constructive group activities with others who share similar likes and experiences.
  • Be an effective coach who listens, advises, and provides youth / young adults with opportunities to learn and practice new skills.  Do not shoot down their ideas.
  • Advocate for youth rights as they relate to employment, housing, education, medical and mental health care, court proceedings, and social needs.
  • Remind young people of their responsibilities related to self commitment, citizenship, character, and fairness and generosity toward others.
  • Recognize successes and celebrate ALL achievements and milestones on the path to adulthood.

Part One of our “Brain Development” Series: General Brain Development

By: Robin Donaldson, Chief Operating Officer, Indiana Youth Services Association & NSPN Advisory Board member

The human brain is a beautiful thing. Nothing matches a healthy brain in efficient, creative, and effective functioning. Normal brain development follows predictable patterns mirroring the mastery of developmental skills at different stages of life. It is important to understand, however, that brain development is strongly influenced by environment. An enriched, supportive environment facilitates healthy brain development; a deprived, harmful, or stressful environment greatly inhibits normal brain development.

There are two developmental periods during which brain growth and development is unparalleled: birth – toddlerhood and pre-adolescence. During both of these stages, there is a tremendous increase in brain matter, particularly in neural connections, or synapses, that allow the brain cells to communicate. This overabundance of brain matter is necessary to accommodate the significant learning that occurs during these periods.

Also common to both periods of brain development is the process called pruning. Neural pruning rids the brain of unused synapses to promote more efficient processing. Again, pruning is highly dependent upon the environment and individual experiences. Exposure to new skills and learning opportunities is crucial during these times.

There are also differences in the brain development of infancy / toddlerhood and adolescence and these differences reflect the developmental tasks that are key to each stage. Much of brain development in the earlier years is inhibitory; neural communication in the brain blocks brain activity in certain areas as the child learns to control their own bodies, emotions, and actions.  Brain growth in adolescence is excitatory; this is particularly true for the limbic system, the area of the brain integral to learning, reward, and emotions.

Key to understanding much of adolescent behavior is the knowledge that the limbic system develops and is “primed to respond” much sooner than the prefrontal cortex, the area controlling higher cognitive processes and higher emotional control. Due to this uneven growth pattern, adolescents experience heightened emotions, have more difficulty reading emotions and controlling their own emotions, and engage in thrill-seeking behavior at much greater extent than adults.

Because development of the prefrontal cortex is reliant upon experience, adults can create environments to facilitate this development. Learning opportunities, positive role modeling, adequate rest, diet, and exercise, effective coping skills and reduced exposure to risks factors such as alcohol, drugs, and stress, are all key components to healthy brain development. It is within our power to create experiences for youth that will allow them to maximize the most powerful tool at their disposal, the human brain.

This blog post is the first in a three-part series on brain development. Stay tuned for the next two blog posts on brain development!

Launched Today: Voices of Youth Count

VoYC logo

NSPN is pleased to announce the launch of Voices of Youth Count – http://www.voicesofyouthcount.org/.

Voices of Youth Count, led by Chapin Hall in collaboration with NSPN and partners across the country, seeks both a reliable national estimate of youth homelessness and a clearer picture of what it means to be young and homeless in America today. All efforts are aimed at finding and widely sharing solutions to preventing and ending youth homelessness.

The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness has spoken to the need to fill gaps in our knowledge about this highly vulnerable group, stating “…we know too little about the scale and nature of youth homelessness.”

Chapin Hall and its partners are ready to take on that challenge.

Beginning in mid-2015 through 2017, Voices of Youth Count will collect original data by interviewing and surveying youth and those around them, conducting quantitative analyses, rigorously examining the effectiveness of investments we are making as a country, analyzing existing federal, state, and local policies, and connecting findings to the existing knowledge base.

Evidence and recommendations will be purposefully linked to current local, state, and federal policy efforts with an eye on authorizing legislation, how programs are structured and funded, and the way in which services are delivered.

NSPN is excited to join Chapin Hall, myriad national and local advocates, community providers of youth services, philanthropists, policymakers, and youth in this effort. As the project evolves, learning will be shared on http://www.voicesofyouthcount.org/

Thank you for taking time to learn about this innovative research effort. We hope you will join NSPN on this journey of learning.

*Check out the official Voices of Youth Count launch video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ks6SwFCX-yM 

Pride Isn’t an End. It’s a Beginning.

By: Jama Shelton, LMSW, PhD, Deputy Executive Director for True Colors Fund

Pride Month is not only an opportunity for homeless youth programs to celebrate the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) young people with whom they work, it’s also a time for youth-serving agencies to come out as visible allies of all young people. Sometimes youth serving organizations may not celebrate Pride Month if they think it isn’t relevant to the youth within their programs. Even if you aren’t aware of any LGBT identified youth (or youth who may be questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity) within your programs, chances are, they’re there! In fact, 99% of the service providers we surveyed for our Serving Our Youth Report said they work with LGBT youth in their homeless youth programs. Less than one percent reported not working with LGBT youth. Pride Month is a perfect opportunity to let these young people know that you see them, stand with them, and support them.

Pride Month is a time to be, well… proud! It’s a time to celebrate the accomplishments of LGBT people and communities. And we’ve had no lack of accomplishments lately! Laverne Cox continues to excel at her craft, while also raising awareness about the unjust treatment of transgender people, particularly transgender women of color, in our country. Over the past few months, Caitlyn Jenner’s decision to live as her true self has made headlines worldwide, and introduced the topic of transgender identity to a whole new audience. Let us be proud of and celebrate these incredible women!

Let us also recognize that many LGBT young people struggle to survive in families and communities that are not yet able to accept or celebrate them. According to service providers we surveyed, LGBT youth continue to be overrepresented within the population of youth experiencing homelessness, and identity-based family rejection continues to be the primary reason for their homelessness. While Laverne and Caitlyn are making their ways into households all over the world via mainstream media, transgender youth are being forced out of their homes and face great difficulty finding adequate support once on the street.

While updating our report this year, we asked service providers about their experiences working with transgender youth separately from their experiences with cisgender LGB youth in order to better understand how to support transgender youth. Here are some of the key findings from the report:

  • Organizational staff report average increases in the proportion of LGBT youth they serve. This change is higher for transgender youth.
  • Service providers were more likely to report that transgender youth experience homelessness for longer periods of time than cisgender LGB youth.
  • Transgender youth were estimated to have experienced bullying, family rejection, and physical and sexual abuse at higher rates than their LGB counterparts.
  • The number one need for LGBT youth experiencing homelessness, as identified by providers, was housing. Providers also identified transition-related support as a critical need for transgender youth. Transition-related supports include access to legal support, name/gender marker change, access to healthcare specific to transgender youth, access to hormones, and emotional support.

So why am I bringing this up during Pride Month, a time when celebrations of LGBT identity abound? Because not all LGBT community members are accepted, much less celebrated, in their families and in their communities. This June, I challenge you not only to celebrate, but also to educate within your organizations and communities. Increasing visibility is important, but let’s not stop there. It’s an important first step in creating a safe and inclusive society, but when Pride Month is over and the parades have ended, what will have changed for the LGBT youth experiencing homelessness in your community?

This June, I am proud to work alongside many of you in communities around the country as you commit to making your programs and services safe and affirming for all youth. I encourage you to celebrate the LGBT youth you serve not only during the month of June, but all year. If you’d like suggestions on how to do that, contact us at the True Colors Fund. We’re happy to help!

True Colors Fund, National Safe Place Network NSPNsights Blog, Pride Month 2015

True Colors Fund, National Safe Place Network NSPNsights Blog, Pride Month 2015

True Colors Fund, National Safe Place Network NSPNsights Blog, Pride Month 2015

True Colors Fund, National Safe Place Network NSPNsights Blog, Pride Month 2015

True Colors Fund, National Safe Place Network NSPNsights Blog, Pride Month 2015

True Colors Fund, National Safe Place Network NSPNsights Blog, Pride Month 2015

Helpful Resource from Polaris Project

Polaris Project, an organization leading the global fight to end modern slavery and restore freedom to survivors, posted an article on their website intended to help enhance services provided for LGBTQ human trafficking victims.

Breaking Barriers: Improving Services for LGBTQ Human Trafficking Victims

Excerpt: “Youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning (LGBTQ) may be disproportionately affected by human trafficking. They face higher rates of discrimination and homelessness, making them especially vulnerable to traffickers.”

Read the full article here: http://www.polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/resources/breaking-barriers-lgbtq-services

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