Protest at Cuomo’s Office Highlights Lack of Funds for LGBT Youth

Queer Rising action results in four arrests

The direct-action group Queer Rising staged a demonstration outside Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Manhattan office yesterday evening to draw attention to the lack of additional funding for LGBT homeless youth in his 2012 budget proposal.

Approximately 25 activists gathered on the sidewalk on Third Avenue with cardboard boxes that featured the names, ages and hobbies of anonymous LGBT young people. Four protesters—Natasha Dillon, Jake Goodman, Melissa Kleckner and Ted McGuire—blocked the doors to the governor’s office and demanded that his staff stay put until they found the means to fund additional beds in youth shelters. They were peacefully arrested.

According to the Campaign for Youth Shelter petition sponsored by the Ali Forney Center, an organization providing resources for LGBT homeless youth, $3 million in annual state funding would pay for an additional 100 beds for homeless and runaway youth per year. Last year, New York State reduced such funding by 50 percent, to $2.35 million, and currently provides funds for 200 beds a year.

“It’s tragic that parents and caregivers throw their children to the streets simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Jake Goodman, a member of Queer Rising.  “It’s unconscionable that our friend the governor continues to make choices that keep them there.”

A 2010 report by the NYC Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Runaway and Homeless Youth suggests that, in New York City, up to 3,800 young people between the ages of 13 and 24 are homeless. Up to 40 percent of those identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

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