The Forty to None Project, the first national organization to focus solely on youth homelessness and its impact on youth who are LGBT, was launched on Tuesday by the True Colors Fund, according to its Executive Director and co-founder Gregory Lewis.
America’s Next Generation, the inaugural PSA for Forty to None, was also released on Tuesday. The video features singer and advocate Cyndi Lauper, who co-founded the True Colors Fund and served as a Grand Marshal for the NYC Pride Parade on Sunday.
“In America, up to 1.6 million youth are homeless each year. Up to 40% of them identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Most of them have been thrown out of their homes or have run away out of fear and rejection,” she says in the video. “America’s next generation needs us to stand with them so they can stand on their own.”
“In the immediate future,” says Lewis, “the program will focus primarily on raising public awareness, engaging society to be a part of the solution, advocating on behalf of gay and transgender homeless youth on Capitol Hill, and empowering those whom the issue affects most deeply, young homeless people themselves, to overcoming the obstacles and realize the futures they deserve.”
Forty to None shares the personal stories of youth who are homeless and identify as LGBT through outreach efforts and media campaigns, such as Give A Damn. They are also interested in learning your personal story. Along with housing personal stories to educate people about youth homelessness, Forty to None also provides information about available local services.
In terms of advocacy, the Forty to None Project has taken their message to the nation’s capital, and organizers say it is “working with a number of trusted and respected partners to ensure increased funding to help homeless youth, that there are protections in place for gay and transgender youth in federally funded agencies, and that the government supports efforts to facilitate greater family acceptance in the hope of preventing homelessness.” The Project encourages supporters to make their voices heard as well.
And this is just the beginning.
Lewis says, “Next Monday, we will be releasing a new report based off of survey findings of service providers that we did this winter in partnership with The Palette Fund and the Williams Institute at UCLA, with the support of the National Runaway Switchboard and CenterLink.”
Lewis has a long history of advocating for equality and LGBT youth, having previously served as the Managing Director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation and in the development department of the Human Rights Campaign.
An ally to the LGBT community, Lauper has also long been dedicated raising awareness, working towards equality, and mobilizing those who do not identify as LGBT to be allies.
In a message posted on the website of the True Colors Fund, she shares, “Everyone—whether straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender—should be allowed to show their true colors, and be accepted and loved for who they are. Every American should be guaranteed equal treatment, at school, at work, in their relationships in service of their country…and in every part of their lives.”
She adds that the disproportionate rate of LGBT youth facing homelessness has hit her especially hard. “When I heard that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth make up anywhere between 20% and 40% of all homeless youth, yet only 3% to 5% of the general youth population in this country, I was furious.”
Recognizing the multifaceted plight of kids and teens who are LGBT and homeless, we encourage everyone to check out the True Colors Fund and their most recent Project and stand with Cyndi, who promises, “We will not rest until that percentage goes from 40 to none.”