Today, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (SB 2646). This bipartisan legislation reauthorizes and strengthens the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA), the only federal law that funds vital services for homeless youth – including street outreach, basic shelter, and transitional living programs.
The True Colors Fund team has been working tirelessly with Sens. Leahy and Collins over the past year to ensure that this reauthorization bill is inclusive of gay and transgender youth and meets their unique needs.
The reauthorization adds a nondiscrimination clause to ensure that all youth are treated fairly, including LGBT youth. This ensures that homeless LGBT youth benefit fairly and equally from the programs and services provided by the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act.
Our co-founder Cyndi Lauper shared her excitement about the bill:
“I applaud Senator Leahy and Senator Collins for introducing the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act to reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act. I am especially grateful that this bipartisan bill includes protections for gay and transgender youth experiencing homelessness. No young person should ever be homeless, let alone because they are gay or transgender, but when they are, we need to ensure that they have access to safe and supportive services.”
The Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act also provides culturally competent care for all youth seeking shelter, including gay and transgender youth and victims of human trafficking, violence, and exploitation. Family rejection is one of the most common reasons youth find themselves homeless, and is often the primary cause of homelessness among gay and transgender youth. That’s why the reauthorization bill includes improved support systems for family reunification and intervention in order to address the issue at its root.
The Forty to None Project and our parent organization, the True Colors Fund, strongly support this Act and thank Senators Leahy and Collins for their leadership. This is a critical step in the effort to end gay and transgender youth homelessness.