A Heart for Homeless LGBTQ Youth

Gracie

“Homeless LGBTQ kids could still be at home–if the parents simply had a shift in their thinking.”

Meet Gracie. Her mother (my friend) posted on FB this story I thought you would love.

“For years we have described our youngest daughter, Gracie, as having a ‘Hobo Heart.’ This is a picture of her hobo heart – I took this of her a couple of months ago in New Orleans while she was watching a homeless person walking away. If we go downtown or are in another city she always has to keep some change or dollar bills with her to share… she “sees” the homeless even when I don’t… and she prays for every homeless person (by name) that she’s ever met. This year, she’s decided completely on her own to make bags filled with a blanket, pillow, gloves, hat, socks, Chapstick, peanut butter crackers, water, toothbrush, soap and other stuff. She is writing Christmas cards for each one. She’s shopped at Walmart, Dollar Tree and Dollar General and somehow managed to do it for about $20 per bag. She plans to give them out between now and Christmas. So far she’s made 4 packs.”

Gracie’s Hobo Heart is full of compassion. To me, Gracie’s Hobo Heart embodies the spirit of Christmas, the spirit of Christ.

Jesus told us to show kindness and mercy, to give to the poor, to defend the rights of those who can’t speak for themselves. Several times the Bible says of Jesus, “He was moved with compassion.” I just love that about him. Spurgeon says, “If you would sum up the whole character of Christ in reference to ourselves, it might be gathered into this one sentence, ‘He was moved with compassion.'”

How much compassion he must have for homeless youth, 40% of whom are LGBTQ. Amazingly, the vast majority of those youth either ran away or were turned away, by families who rejected them for being LGBTQ. That is simply startling. Because that means those kids could still be at home–if the parents simply had a shift in their thinking, if they had the compassion of Christ. Unlike economic, job or other issues that contribute to homelessness overall, parent issues are causing LGBTQ youth homelessness. And that seems completely preventable.

I wonder what would happen if those who do have the compassion of Christ would make places available in their homes for these youth. Like foreign exchange students. I wonder if we collectively could house all those homeless youth.

Gracie with her Hobo Heart, her heart of Christ, is doing what she can. I challenge he rest of us with the heart of Christ to do what we can.

LGBT-Homeless-Family-Rejection

For a glimpse into the life of a homeless LGBTQ youth, watch A Day in Our Shoes.

4 thoughts on “A Heart for Homeless LGBTQ Youth

  1. Thanks for posting about the growing number of homeless lgbt youth – it’s a very important issue that is just now starting to be seriously addressed. There are a few groups which exist to specifically work at providing shelter for homeless lgbt youth. If anyone is interested in helping support the efforts to assist homeless lgbt youth I recommend they start by googling the topic and the large cities they are near as some major cities have started to address this issue. For example, I live near the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth and when I google “homeless lgbt youth Dallas Fort Worth” I find out that there is one place in Dallas that helps homeless lgbt youth and the resources are completely inadequate … which means we need more people to help fund the program.

    One of the most horrible things that homeless lgbt youth face is that the state child welfare system is failing them. Here’s some info from Lambda Legal (which is a great resource for lgbt people and those who support them):

    Many LGBTQ homeless and runaway youth have sought assistance from the police and child welfare systems after their families have abused them because they are LGBTQ, but have been turned away due to a lack of sensitivity about the serious issues they are facing. Some are even forced by social workers and police officers to return home to unsafe environments. If placed in care, many find that they are not safe in their placements. A 2006 study found that 65% of 400 homeless LGBTQ youth reported having been in a child welfare placement in the past. The large number of homeless LGBTQ youth in part reflects that the child welfare system is failing these young people.

    It may be slightly out of date but Lamda Legal does have a document that lists some resources for lgbt youth by state (some of these groups may not exist any longer as it is still proving difficult to get the needed funding to do this work). Here is the link to the Lambda Legal document: http://www.lambdalegal.org/sites/default/files/publications/downloads/fs_resources-for-lgbtq-youth-by-state_1.pdf

  2. Me, me!! I have twenty-somethings in my home now and I am loving it (one is a homeless former foster youth. May I be more like Gracie (and Jesus).

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