If you were in Philly on Oct. 8 or 9, you may have seen a few more sidewalk couches than usual.
Philadelphia's Valley Youth House, an organization that assists young adults with finding housing, placed them all around the city to raise awareness of the staggeringly high homeless rates of LGBT teens and young adults.
Youth homelessness is a huge problem the U.S. government has put on its agenda to address, but specific attention is being paid to the LGBT community. According to the White House, studies have shown that gay, transgender, bi, lesbian or queer kids make up to 40 percent of the general homeless population. The result is going from couch to couch. But the Valley Youth House wants the public to know that is not enough.
It began the hashtag campaign #CouchesDontCount to drive this point home — pun intended.
"It's not 'in your face,' " Valerie Johnson, the agency's development officer, told Philly.com. "There are a lot of LGBT homeless youth and we want to help as many of them as we can."
One of the leading causes of homelessness for these kids is family rejection. About 68 percent of LGBT youth have been rejected and 54 percent actually experienced a form of abuse.
This was exemplified in August 2014 when a Georgia teen's video went viral that depicted his parents physically and verbally assaulting him for coming out as gay then kicked him out of the house. There are thousands others just like him who end up on the streets. What's worse is that even after they're kicked out, they often face abuse in shelters by their heterosexual peers.
It's time to take the invisibility cloak off this issue, one couch at a time.
(H/T: Philadelphia magazine)
Cover image via iStock / Squinch