VIDEO: "Not a Sin" introduces the stories of homeless LGBT youth of faith

"Not a Sin" is a short film that brings awareness to the violence against LGBT youth from religous teachings that lack acceptance. The short film explores first-person accounts of three young LGBT people who left their homes after experiencing rejection from their religious families, simply for being who they are. "Not a Sin" is produced by Faith in America, an organization working to end the harm of LGBT youth and families from misguided religious teachings.

Carl Siciliano reveals in the short film that "there are over 200,000 homeless LGBT youth and the largest single reason that they are driven from their homes is because of the religious beliefs of their parents." Offering solutions, he calls for mercy from and healing of the Church to alleviate the violence experienced by LGBT youth. Carl Siciliano is the founder of The Ali Forney Center (AFC), one of the largest agencies dedicated to LGBT homeless youth. AFC provides young LGBT people with housing and supportive services in preparation for independent living. 

"The real purpose of religion is to not save eath other or to separate each other. It's to bring us closer, love each other, be accepting of each other." The video begins with Manny, who describes how his extended family refused to accept him into their home after his mother died. 

"At a very young age I knew that it wasn't considered okay and I dealt with a lot of shame for a very long time" Amaya shares her experience of growing up in a devoutly religious community, whose lack of tolerance drove to her leave home. 

"I was called a sinner. I was told I needed to be stoned and that God would never let me be that way." Lola talks about her move to New York City after coming out to her Catholic grandmother left her neglected and unloved.

Statistics make this crisis clear: While the overall LGBT population is about 5-7%, 40% of homeless kids identify as LGBT. They are also more likely to suffer deep depression and abuse drugs and alcohol. And they are 8 times more likely to attempt suicide than children from accepting families.

"Not a Sin" was created as a component of Faith in America's petition. With nearly 1000 signatures so far, petition calls to "Stop Harming LGBT Youth by Teaching That Homosexuality Is a Sin." It aims to develop a greater understanding of LGBT youth homelessness. The petition is also accompanied by a letter calling on faith leaders to reexamine their teachings on LGBT people. It is signed by Mitchell Gold, Founder of Faith in America and Carl Siciliano, Founder and Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center.

For more information and to see the video, find the petition here.

GLAAD has been following Pope Francis as he visits the United States for the World Meeting of Families. In preparation for the papal visit, Nicholas Coppola and GLAAD's petition for the Pope to meet with LGBT Catholics has been gathering over 8,000 signatures. Additionally, GLAAD has created a Tumblr for folks to express messages to the Pope, while offering a guide to accurate reporting on the Catholic Church's hierarchy