A number of faith-based providers oppose legal and social equality for LGBT people, which raises serious questions about whether LGBT homeless youth can access services in a safe and nurturing environment. If an organization’s core belief is that homosexuality is wrong, that organization (and its committed leaders and volunteers) may not respect a client’s sexual orientation or gender identity and may expose LGBT youth to discriminatory treatment (pg. 5).In the first part of the article, in a section, taken from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s (GLAAD) blog site, and also from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Report it is stated that 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT.
This part of the report I find a bit sketchy, that is, there is not a good statistical basis in the footnotes of the Task Force Report, to prove the point. For instance the estimate of total homeless youth, “575,000 to 1.6 million per year,” supposedly a US Department of health and Human Services estimate, is footnoted by a paper presented at a forum. In the paper this is stated about sexual orientation:
The rate of gay or bisexual orientation among homeless youth varies across studies. In several studies with shelter and street samples, 3 to 10 percent of youth have reported their sexual orientation as gay, lesbian or bisexual (Greenblatt & Robertson, 1993; Johnson, Aschkenasy, Herbers, & Gillenwater, 1993; Rotheram-Borus et al., 1992b; Toro et al., 1998; Wolfe et al., 1994). Such rates suggest that homeless youth are no more likely than non-homeless youth to report gay or bisexual orientation when compared to the national rate of about 10 percent (Dempsey, 1994). However, higher rates of gay or bisexual identity (16 to 38%) are reported in another set of studies.(5) The higher rates in these studies (16 to 38%) can be accounted for by samples that came from street or clinical sites; tended to be older; included more men (who generally have higher rates than women for gay or bisexual orientation); or came from areas with significant concentrations of gay or bisexual persons in the larger community.The next statement in the Task Force report cites the percentage of between 20 to 40% of homeless youth identifying as LGBT. The authors write, “Our analysis of the available research suggests that between 20 percent and 40 percent of all homeless youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).” Footnote #2 directs the reader to a more complete, and undoubtedly more recent, report but it is evidently not on line. While it is unclear, I believe it is a report researched and written by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
My belaboring this point has nothing to do with the needs of LGBT homeless youth. If there was just one LGBT homeless youth their needs should be met. They should not be harmed in any way. However, in this report, with some statistics which may or may not be correct about the magnitude of the problem, some inferences are set to work against those organizations, who because of their faith believe same gender sex to be sin. So I return to the first quote I have placed above:
A number of faith-based providers oppose legal and social equality for LGBT people, which raises serious questions about whether LGBT homeless youth can access services in a safe and nurturing environment. If an organization’s core belief is that homosexuality is wrong, that organization (and its committed leaders and volunteers) may not respect a client’s sexual orientation or gender identity and may expose LGBT youth to discriminatory treatment (pg. 5).In the report the Salvation Army is singled out as an example:
For example, an internal Salvation Army document obtained by the Washington Post in 2001 confirmed that “…the White House had made a ‘firm commitment’ to issue a regulation protecting religious charities from state and city efforts to prevent discrimination against gays in hiring and providing benefits.”28 Public policy that exempts religious organizations providing social services from non-discrimination laws in hiring sets a dangerous precedent. If an otherwise qualified employee can be fired simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, what guarantee is there that clients, including LGBT homeless youth, will be supported and treated fairly? More research is needed on the policies of FBOs that provide services for LGBT homeless youth.It has been stated that religious freedom and laws that involve same gender sex are going to meet head on. In this document’s suggestions they do. And in fact, without taking a breath, after mentioning the Salvation Army and how exempting religious organizations from hiring based on sexual orientation will create abuses against LGBT young people, the paper details some horrific abuses of LGBT youth. But none of them by the Salvation Army.
The report goes on to list policy recommendations including,
1. Require all agencies that seek government funding and licensure to serve homeless youth to demonstrate awareness and cultural competency of LGBT issues and populations at the institutional level and to adopt nondiscrimination policies for LGBTyouth.While these policies are not fully explained, cultural competency generally means acceptance of the cultural values of those being served. This would be unacceptable for any church or organization that holds to the word of God while serving the needs of others. The article that Adee has placed on the MLP site is filled with restrictive insinuations concerning religious freedom.
2. Mandate individual-level LGBT awareness training and demonstrated cultural competency as a part of the professional licensing process of all health and social service professions.
3. Mandate LGBT awareness training for all state agency staff who work in child welfare or juvenile justice divisions.
Yes, Adee is right, “The church has the power to harm or to help in making the world a safer place for LGBT youth.” But the help not only includes insisting on good care for them and all homeless youth, it above all includes telling them of the saving and transforming grace of Jesus Christ. Without that they are no help at all.