We’ve been doing a lot in Washington, D.C. lately – so here’s a quick update on what we’ve been up to, and where things stand:
- We’ve been working tirelessly to reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, our nation’s only federal law that funds vital services for homeless youth.
- In April, Congressman Dave Reichert (WA-8) and Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) introduced the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (RHYTPA), to the U.S. House of Representatives to reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act. We worked with both congressmen to ensure that the reauthorization recognizes the needs of all young people, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth experiencing homelessness.
- In March, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced RHYTPA to the U.S. Senate. Like the House bill, this bill would reauthorize services for youth experiencing homelessness, and includes a nondiscrimination clause to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. This clause is essential, as it would ensure that they are safe, welcoming, and tailored to meet the needs of all youth – regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Despite opposition, we’ve been working tirelessly to ensure that this clause is not removed. While we were able to secure a strong majority (including 10 votes from Republicans), the Senate failed to pass RHYTPA.The vote was 56 “YES” to 43 “NO” – short of the 60 “YES” votes required to pass. We haven’t given up. We’re continuing to work with Senators Leahy and Collins to build support, and are confident we can gain the 4 votes we need to move this bill forward. You can add your voice to the many calling to #PassRHYTPA, by signing our petition.
- So, on April 29 (#40toNoneDay), our Co-Founder Cyndi Lauper testified in front of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies about youth homelessness and the need for increased resources to end the problem. She also called on the Senate to #PassRHYTPA, complete with the nondiscrimination clause, and implored parents to accept and celebrate their children for who they are. “If it’s a faith issue, I implore you not to pray to God to change your kid,” she said. “Pray to God to change your heart.” Check out her testimony:
- After testifying, Cyndi and the True Colors Fund partnered with the White House and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness to bring together 170 of the nation’s leaders on youth homelessness for a policy briefing on youth homelessness. These leaders included service providers, researchers, advocates, federal agencies, and (most importantly) the youth themselves. Cyndi delivered the introduction for the briefing, True Colors Fund Executive Director Gregory Lewis spoke and moderated a panel on innovative strategies being used across various sectors to end youth homelessness, Deputy Executive Director Jama Shelton spoke on the invaluable roles of research and data in the movement, and Program Officer Twiggy Pucci Garcon moderated a youth panel featuring our young friends Ziggy Keyes and Kal Rocket! Through a collaborative cross-sector discussion, leaders in the room were able to share efforts, up-to-date information and practices, insight, and opinions that will undoubtedly move our efforts forward and foster further collaboration down the road.
We’ll keep you up to date on all our work in Washington as we continue to push for RHYTPA’s passage. Check out a recap on #40toNoneDay – complete with photos from Cyndi’s Senate testimony and the White House policy briefing!