Actress and singer Cyndi Lauper launched the Forty to None Project today, a national organization designed to advocate for homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.
“There’s a void that needs to be filled. There are kids who are struggling and need real help, and my mission is to get them that help,” said Lauper in a statement.
The Forty to None Project is part of Lauper’s True Colors Fund, which was created to help inspire others to become active in the LGBT rights movement and to help bring an end to LGBT youth homelessness.
Anywhere from 500,000 to 1.6 million youth in the U.S. are homeless or runaways, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. Up to 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBT, yet LGBT youth are only three to five percent of the general U.S. youth population.
“The disparity suggests that gay and transgender youth stand a much higher chance of becoming homeless because of abuse, neglect and familial rejection due to sexual orientation or gender identity that drive them to the streets,” Lauper said.
Lauper’s goal, reducing this 40 percent statistic to zero, aptly provides the title for the project, “Forty to None.”
The group’s five-year plans include advocating on behalf of LGBT youth to legislators, offering online resources to these children, developing empowerment-type programs, and more, said Gregory Lewis, executive director of the True Colors Fund, during a June 26 press conference call.
Lauper, who met with a group of LGBT youth during a photo shoot for Interview magazine, said she couldn’t imagine what it would be like, as a mother, to kick a child out of her house.
“When you have a kid, it doesn’t come with a receipt, and you can’t return it to the store if you don’t like it. Rejecting a kid because they’re gay is just like rejecting a kid because they have brown hair—because ‘gay’ is not a choice. And that is the education that people need to know,” Lauper said about Forty to None’s goals.
Do you think LGBT youth homelessness is a big issue in the U.S. If not, should it be? Let us know in COMMENTS.