On Homeless Teens.

by Little Miss Attila on December 19, 2009

They aren’t all dead, contra Cynthia, and they aren’t all gay. But they are one of the most neglected and discriminated-against segments of society. Gay or straight, they deserve a lot more of our support than they get: these kids are exploited horribly—sexually, and otherwise. We need to do more for them.

h/t: Carol at No Sheeples Here.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe December 19, 2009 at 12:01 pm

I am going to disagree with Cynthia on this one. I worked in a Salvation Army shelter geared for homeless youth (while I was in college). I am not saying your scenerio of “Christians” tossing their child out for “sin” is not possible, but I can tell you from listening to these kids’ stories it is rarely just the kid is gay and thrown out of the home to fend for him or herself.

Usually the family of the homeless youth is completely disfunctional and the kid leaves because staying there is worse than being on the street (or when the kid leaves they think it is worse). There is almost always violence, sexual abuse, drugs, alcohol and other serious issues happening in the home. Occasiaonlly kids go on the street because they are recruited by other kids (as if it was some adventure), but that is relatively rare too and when it happens reality usually causes those kids to head back home.

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Jenn December 19, 2009 at 1:38 pm

My personal experience tracks with Joe. That isn’t to say I haven’t met some who left home as a teen because they came out and their family either threw them out or became impossible to deal with in some other way but they are the minority and in my experience it is most often an outreach program of some sort that helps them get back on their feet. Beyond that abandonment of a teen != murder – it is despicable but it is not the outright taking of life and you lose a little credibility when you equate the two.

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retriever December 19, 2009 at 4:23 pm

Although Cynthia’s post is heartrending, and describes tragic events, it is grossly unfair to write as if this were a common occurrence in evangelical Christian congregations. As Jenn and Joe have noted, the sexual orientation of the kid is usually just one of many issues involved. Christians struggle with all the same issues as any other parents and kids, and no doubt some are cruel to their kids, but probably most are fairly decent.

I worked for years as a youth minister in a suburban parish and as a chaplain in a child welfare agency with impoverished minority kids (we took in kids sent to us by the courts after being arrested, or because of abuse and neglect, or kicked out by their parents, and kids who ran away, and kids whose parents could not control the kids’ sexual acting out, drug taking, and were afraid the kids would die). A major issue was the sexual abuse (or the threat of it) by the mother’s boyfriend or new husband (not the kid’s father). Single mothers having kids at a very young age by several different fathers could not always provide stable and safe homes for their own kids, even when they loved them dearly. Furthermore, single mothers often on welfare or working at low level jobs lived in dangerous drug ridden neighborhoods that offered many temptations and dangers to kids.

I would say that sexual orientation was the least of the problems of the kids I knew, whether in nominally PC but basically prejudiced rich suburbs, or the inner city (tho many of the teen girls I worked with had been so traumatized by sexually abusive males that they had no further use for men. If they didn’t start out attracted to other women, some ended up preferring other women who seemed safer).

As far as rejecting Christians? While I live in the Northeast, and mostly in cities, which are more liberal than perhaps the Bible Belt, I have generally been part of devoutly Christian protestant evangelical congregations. I cannot remember a SINGLE instance of parents throwing their gay kids out of the house in 25 years that I have belonged to several very evangelical congregations. Many parents of gay kids in such churches have a tough adjustment period as they had been perhaps very anti-gay until their kid came out (but not all). But their love for their kid won out. All kids do things differently to their parents. Some of us cope better than others…Whether with issues around sex, or politics or religion…. Most of us end up adjusting to our kids’ surprising us, sometimes in ways we are embarrassed by or uncomfortable with (at least initially). I know plenty of people who have very traditional views on marriage, and sexual behavior, who wouldn’t dream of rejecting their gay kids.

Most family situations are complicated, and all this is a longwinded way of saying that sexual orientation is probably just one of many factors in kids’ running away or being kicked out. The others include (whether the family is Christian, atheist, or Wicca) the overall family level of mental health, financial health, addiction or sobriety, and marital status of the parents, and the mental health, substance use and general character of the kid.

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Joe December 19, 2009 at 5:30 pm

And for what it is worth, I do denounce any parent who rejects their child for sexual orientation. That is no less deplorable than a parent who abuses or neglects their child for any other reason. That a parent would do so and try to justify the rejection of their child as something “Christian” is just an added level of hypocrisy.

But I do think what is described in Cynthia post (children rejected solely because of their sexual orientation) is relatively rare. Unfortunately, abused children are not rare, but all too common. The factors that lead to abuse of children are not caused by Christianity, but a result of ignorance, human weakness, and a degregation of societial civility and responsible behavior. Or as Christians and other people of faith like to call it, evil.

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Rick Koca December 19, 2009 at 8:47 pm

StandUp For Kids the largest organization in the US helping homeless and street kids founded in 1990. 20-40% of all homless kids are GLBT kids, and another 20-40% are failures of the foster care system. A case of child abuse is reported every 10 seconds and a child runs away every minute in our country. 50% return home within 48 hours.

“Out in the Cold” is a documentary about GLBT kids who are homeless. http://www.matthewshepard.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Youth_First_Other_Out_in_the_Cold — Hear from them how they end up on the streets. And, visit our web site and read stories from the kids: http://www.standupforkids.org

Finally, in 20 years of walking the streets, “helping homeless and street kids” I never met a youth who ‘wanted’ to be on the streets.

Who would choose to be on the streets this time of year ????

Happy Holiday, Rick Koca, Founder & CEO StandUp For Kids (44 cities 23 states – all volunteers)

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Little Miss Attila December 19, 2009 at 9:11 pm

This is all fair enough. Let’s remember that I probably saw an above-average number of throwaway gay kids, and Cynthis very likely encountered even more. Our samples, hanging out with above-average numbers of gay people, would have been skewed.

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Joe December 19, 2009 at 11:29 pm

Cynthia is not wrong on that. The numbers are definitely skewed. Gay kids may make up a third, maybe more, of homeless kids. They are disproportionately represented in the ranks of homeless kids. I am not saying that is not a factor, it definitely is, but it is not as simple as gay kids being thrown out by church going Christian parents.

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Joy McCann December 20, 2009 at 12:12 am

Not by real Christian parents (she says, painting with a big, broad brush while appointing herself the Defende of the Faith–please excuse the generalization, and the arrogance, for just a moment).

I suppose I feel that since this blog is written from a Christian point of view, and Cynthia has a fair handful of Christians on her blogroll, no one is really promoting the notion that the majority of Christians are unaccepting toward their gay kids. Even hot-blooded Cynthia, who slams these people as “murderers,” is well aware that for every parent whose judgementalism veers into neglect/abuse, there is someone like Barry Goldwater or Dick Cheney, who uses their child’s coming out as an opportunity to learn more about some within the GLBT community.

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Joy McCann December 20, 2009 at 12:18 am

More, because I don’t think I was clear. I guess I’m saying that Cynthia can on occasion, despite the supercharged rhetoric, help other conservatives to reach a greater understanding of what can happen when we place a Social Conservative ethic ahead of our real family relationships.

(And steady readers will detect in my link a bit of my “caped crusader who defends teenagers” streak coming through . . . I get a bit silly about that sometimes.)

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Joy McCann December 20, 2009 at 12:21 am

I hate it when I flip-flop between names while commenting on my own site . . . oh, well. Both LMA and JW McCann are me, of course.

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