There are approximately 1.6 million to 2.8 million homeless young people in the United States, and estimates suggest that disproportionate numbers of those youth are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. These vulnerable gay and transgender youth often run away from home because of family conflict and then face overt discrimination when seeking alternative housing, which is compounded by institutionalized discrimination in federally funded programs.
We do not have to accept this reality. The federal government has the power to reduce and eventually eliminate rates of gay and transgender youth homelessness while addressing youth homelessness overall. Congress can and should make a financial commitment to services directed at these young people. They should join with federal agencies and couple it with an expansion of equal rights and protections to all gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. As the numbers below show, it's time we provide these young people with the help they need.