Category Archives: Related Social Issues

America’s Most Unwanted

This Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 7pm, San Francisco’s LGBT Community Center will premier the film America’s Most Unwanted.

This is a moving film about the lives and experiences of LGBTQ foster youth in California. As one of the most vulnerable and underserved populations, they also make up a much larger percentage of homeless youth than most people realize.

 

Here is information from the press release:

The film, from award-winning filmmaker Shani Heckman, reveals untold stories of homophobia in the foster care system in the country’s most gay-friendly state: California. California is also one of the first states to pass the Foster Care Achievement Act and A.B.12, which will allow foster youth access to care until age 21. For decades, policy changes have been making life better for foster youth, but as bullying campaigns across the country have shown, life needs to be improved for LGBT youth at all levels.

LGBTQ foster youth are often kicked out of their homes for identifying as LGBTQ and then enter state-sanctioned homes that treat them even worse: “75% of LGBTQI foster youth in state care had experienced physical abuse, 66% preferred to live on the streets”[1]

The panel following the screening will explore many of the issues raised in the film and allow audience members to ask specific questions about foster care and documentary filmmaking.

[1] Child Welfare League of America, CWLA, 2007.

More information: http://mostunwantedfilm.org/

415-206-9392 /fosteryouthfilm@gmail.com
twitter: @fosteryouthfilm
facebook: @fosteryouthfilm

 

 

The National Youth Advocacy Coalition Introduces Online Training to Help LGBTQ Youth

Here is their press release:

The National Youth Advocacy Coalition is pleased to announce the online Safe Spaces Training Module, which is designed to help organizations create safer spaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. The self-guided training module has six parts, which run approximately 15 minutes each. The module contains a self-assessment for each participating organization; and upon completion of all six modules, agencies can receive free Safe Zone materials for their offices and youth spaces. The training module is free. Participants only need to download a worksheet and follow along with the video series at their own pace. NYAC is available to answer specific questions and can provide more individualized technical assistance around creating spaces for LGBTQ youth. To access the online training module, click here. Please direct all questions or concerns regarding the Safe Spaces Training Module to Jennie Beeson at 800.541.6922 ext 12 or via email at mailto:jennie@nyacyouth.org.

Why Health Care Disparities Matter for LGBTQ Youth

A terrific piece by Alex Blaze at The Bilerico Project about health issues amongst LGBTQ people.  He addresses the startling fact that LGBTQ folks tend to be less healthy than the general population.

Sometimes folks don’t get why being LGBTQ could have an impact on your health beyond what they already assume about HIV/AIDS.  In this culture, we suffer under the delusion that our health and well-being is utterly and completely a result of our own actions and behaviors.

Alex Blaze said it perfectly:

Health care access is fundamentally a question of poverty and how wealth is distributed.

The fact is that minority groups that experience oppression have less access to health care, can often not afford health care and experience discrimination when accessing health care.  Further, the stress associated with living in a culture that is oppressive toward you adds additional mental and physical stressors that detract from good health.

For example, Somjen Frazer, a senior policy analyst at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute, and Ross Levi, Director of Public Policy & Education for the Empire State Pride Agenda wrote in “New Study Finds Gap in LGBT Health Services” (which addresses New York State LGBTQ health issues):

40% of LGBT people say there are not enough health professionals who are adequately trained and competent to deliver health care to LGBT people. 27% fear that if medical personnel found out that they are LGBT that they would be treated differently. This can result in people not giving their doctor the information he or she needs to provide effective case, or in LGBT people avoiding medical care at all.

This absolutely extends to mental health and is only compounded for LGBTQ youth.  With even less control over their lives — in terms of where they live, who they live with, or the sense that they have the right to demand equality — LGBTQ youth are hit even harder by homelessness, mental health concerns and physical health concerns. It is very important, especially to youth who are in early stages of forming their identity (which includes gender and sexual orientation identities), to have health care and mental health care from providers that truly understand the issues they face.  The confused look on the doctor’s face after hearing “Yes, I’m sexually active and no, I don’t use birth control and no, I don’t want to get pregnant” says to a young person that the doctor won’t understand much about the rest of her patient’s life.  More young people than I can count have told me stories of painful misunderstandings with previous therapists who confused gender with sexuality, who don’t understand the impact of oppression, or who hint that if you don’t want to get beat up at school you should “think about dressing a little differently.”

Those experiences harm and we all deserve doctors, nurses, therapists, and other providers to not only be “accepting” of us, but to really educate themselves on the issues we face — no matter who we are or who we love. Health care is not a special right.

For more information on the impact of LGBTQ identity on health and wellness, read Empire State Pride’s full report.

The Associated Press: Shelters slowly adapt to help transgender homeless

Shelters Slowly Adapt to Help Transgender Homeless

While not specifically about LGBTQ youth, this is an excellent article on the challenges transgender people face while homeless:

A study last year of 646 transgender Californians conducted by San Francisco’s Transgender Law Center found that 20 percent reported having been homeless, and a third of those said they had been denied access to a shelter.

As I’ve posted previously, many homeless youth also identify as LGBTQ.  I wonder how many of them are trans-identified and have felt unsafe at shelters where they’ve sought help.