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04/19/2007


LGBT Homeless Youth Describe Rejection from Christian Households: VIDEOS

The Ali Forney Center, New York City's largest shelter for homeless LGBT youth has released a set of videos featuring four of their clients talking about the physical abuse, psychological torment, and rejection they suffered in Christian households which drove them from their homes.

SicilianoExecutive Director Carl Siciliano writes about it in an essay:

"As millions celebrate Easter, I need to ask my fellow Christians to wake up to the terrible fact that far too many LGBT youth are being abused and rejected in Christian homes...

A recent study by the Family Acceptance Project on the impact of family rejection of LGBT youth found that parents who identify as "strongly religious" were significantly more likely to reject their children. According to research by the Center for American Progress, there are an estimated 300,000 homeless LGBT youth in our country, and the leading cause of their homelessness is family rejection.

It doesn't have to be like this. Jesus Christ never spoke a word of condemnation against homosexuals. Churches don't have any need to condemn LGBT people, or fight against our equal treatment in our country. A growing number of church communities have chosen to be affirming and supportive of LGBT people. I have the joy of experiencing this directly in the numerous church groups who send volunteers to cook in our shelters and collect clothing and even Christmas gifts for our young people.

A healthy society prioritizes the safety of children. Decent people do not stand by in silence when children are being abused. We need to recognize that the condemnation of LGBT people in churches leads to the abuse and rejection of LGBT children in far too many Christian homes.


Ali Forney Center For LGBT Youth Destroyed By Sandy

Ali_Forney_flood_insertThis is a huge blow to an already bloated, under-funded network of support for homeless or displaced LGBT youth here in New York City: the Ali Forney Center on 22nd Street between 10th and 11th Avenues was completely flooded during last week's Hufficane Sandy.

From executive director Carl Siciliano:

Yesterday we were finally able to inspect our drop-in center in Chelsea, half a block from the Hudson River. Our worst fears were realized; everything was destroyed and the space is uninhabitable. The water level went four feet high, destroying our phones, computers, refrigerator, food and supplies.

This is a terrible tragedy for the homeless LGBT youth we serve there. This space was dedicated to our most vulnerable kids, the thousands stranded on the streets without shelter, and was a place where they received food, showers, clothing, medical care, HIV testing and treatment, and mental health and substance abuse services. Basically a lifeline for LGBT kids whose lives are in danger.

We are currently scrambling for a plan to provide care to these desperate kids while we prepare to ultimately move into a larger space that will better meet our needs. The NYC LGBT Center has very kindly and generously offered to let us temporarily use some of their space, and we hope to determine the viability of that on Monday.

We have been deluged with kind offers from people who wish to volunteer and donate goods. Unfortunately, we will have to provide our services in the time being in much smaller spaces that won't accommodate volunteers or allow for much storage space. The best way people can reach out to help in this very challenging time is by making monetary donations. Please go to our website.

It is heartbreaking to see this space come to such a sad end. For the past seven years it has been a place of refuge to thousands of kids reeling from being thrown away by their parents for being LGBT. For many of these kids coming to our drop-in center provided  their first encounter with a loving and affirming LGBT community. I thank all of you for your care and support in a most difficult time.

Those of you who want to donate to help the center rebuild should click HERE.

[Image via Washington Blade]


White House Names Ali Forney Founder Carl Siciliano 'Champion Of Change'

CarlSicilianoA hearty congratulations to Carl Siciliano, the executive director and founder of NYC's Ali Forney Center, a homeless shelter and center for LGBT youth. It was just announced this morning that the White House has selected Siciliano as a Champions of Change Fight Against Youth Homelessness. The awards ceremony will take place on July 12th.

"It is thrilling that as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Ali Forney Center, we are also being recognized by the White House for our pioneering work on behalf of homeless LGBT youth," Siciliano said in a statement.

More from Siciliano:

When we opened the Ali Forney Center, the challenges we faced were daunting; there was very little awareness of the plight of homeless LGBT youth, especially on the federal level, and it was difficult to obtain support for our work.

I am very grateful to President Obama for recognizing the needs of homeless LGBT youth and incorporating their care into his vision of ending youth homelessness. I am also grateful to the White House for recognizing the quality, innovation, and  importance of the Ali Forney Center, which is a testament to all of the individuals who have served on the board, staff and as volunteers.

Hopefully the award will bring more attention to Siciliano's crusade. Demand for beds at the center has skyrocketed in recent years. To help alleviate the crush, the Ali Forney Center and their allies have launched the Campaign for Youth Shelter, which is asking the city and New York state for $3 million in funding that will help accommodate LGBT youth who are struggling on the street.


Bloomberg's 'Cruel' Budget Throwns 160 Homeless Kids Out of Shelter Beds Says LGBT Shelter Executive Director

NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s newly released budget cuts $7 million to the city’s Runaway and Homeless Youth Services, and plan to eliminate 160 youth shelter beds,.

SicilianoCarl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center, NYC's largest LGBT homeless youth shelter, released a statement this morning:

“Mayor Bloomberg's plan to throw 160 homeless children out of their shelter beds and into the streets is cruel, reckless and contemptible. These cuts create an even bigger crisis for the LGBT teens who are thrown out of their homes and forced to endure homelessness on the streets of our city. The LGBT community needs and demands political leaders who will protect our children. Instead, Mayor Bloomberg has proposed eliminating more than half of their shelter beds. The Ali Forney Center, and all those who work with and care about LGBT homeless youth, will not be silent in the face of this decision, which offends us as a community and needlessly puts our young people in harm's way.”

According to the Center:

Today’s cuts come in spite of the fact that the need for youth shelter beds continues to grow; in 2011 alone, the waiting list for AFC’s 77 shelter beds grew to 199 youths - an increase of 40 percent over the prior year.  In total, the city only funds 250 shelter beds, for a population of 4,000 homeless youth.   In response to this crisis, the Ali Forney Center and a number of allied LGBT organizations have launched the Campaign for Youth Shelter.  This initiative calls on New York City and State to back an additional $3 million in annual funding, set aside to create 100 new shelter beds every year.  The Campaign today calls for the city to raise its Runaway and Homeless Youth Services budget from the just-announced $5 million to $13.5 million, both revoking today’s cuts and including the city’s half of the annual $3 million.


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