Welcome to OUT on the Streets, a group founded by Jane Sturges, Ruth Aufderheide, and Alexandre Adrian, three juniors at Carleton College in POSC 358: Comparative Social Movements.
We are very concerned with the situation of LGBT youth (and adults) who have become homeless, whether due to poverty, societal/familial rejection, or a myriad of other possible reasons. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has estimated that between 20-40% of homeless youth on any given night are identified as queer/LGBT. This lack of societal support, compounded by age and many youths’ inability to support themselves has resulted in a widespread problem that needs to be confronted. Queer youth, especially those of color, are experiencing poverty and homelessness disproportionately as compared to their heterosexual, Caucasian counterparts. The problems of prejudice and misunderstanding on the part of many people have resulted in queer youth being mistreated or turned away from shelters and not given the particular support they need. In many cases, shelters are unsafe or unwelcoming, and an increasing number of queer youth are choosing to take their chances on the streets, leaving them vulnerable to abuse, weather, hate, and the constant possibility of general crime. Many resort to selling their bodies and sex for money to survive. They often are abused or contract STIs, but have little ability to receive the care they need. In addition, since many of these young people are runaways, they do not have the education or resources to find legal, respectable work.
Our goal is to raise awareness at Carleton College, and to encourage students to take action to support these young people. We are working on coordinating a volunteer day, a possible speaker, and a possible legislation campaign. All three facets: awareness, policy, and personal exposure/volunteerism are integral to gaining knowledge and creating a better situation for the young people so greatly affected by their lack of structural support and ability to support themselves. We are excited and ready to begin this project we find so moving and important to our society.