A few days ago, a friend passed along this Ted Talks clip along with speaker Brene Brown discussing shame, vulnerability and love, and I was struck by how many of her themes fit in with the work we do at p:ear.
A few hours later, a newsletter titled "Addressing the Needs of LGBTQ Youth Experiencing Homelessness" from the U.S. Interagency Council on Homeless arrived in my inbox. Though the statistics from the reports in the newsletter were not surprising, they were still shocking. While only 5% of the youth population is identified as LGBTQ, 40% of the homeless youth population is LGBTQ. Fifty-eight percent of these youth have been sexually assaulted in comparison to 33% of heterosexual homeless youth. And sadder still: 62% of homeless LGBT youth attempt suicide. LGBT youth who are rejected by their families in adolescence are 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide, than heterosexual youth. And the offerings of help for these LGBTQ kids are almost non-existant as the report notes that"currently no federal programs specifically designed to meet the needs of gay and transgender homeless youth, and there are no federal protections, and few state laws, in place to keep these youth from being discriminated against while accessing federally funded homeless services.
The stats above are comparable to what we see at p:ear; youth struggling to fit in and find a safe place to be and express themselves without judgment, fear or hate. We also do not use any state or federal funds for our programs. And Dr. Brene's words exhibit the message that Beth, Pippa and Joy have carried to our kids over the past nine years inside of p:ear.
"You know what? You are imperfect, and you wired for struggle but you are worthy of love and belonging."