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Community forum in Clearfield: Homeless LGBT youth and life on the streets

Hear from two women who know more about youth homelessness in Utah than anyone, and how youth live their lives and survive – on the streets, in camps, on couches and abandoned buildings. Learn what this “forgotten nation” is like, and how we can work together to prevent LGBT youth homelessness.

Cai Noble, Founding Director of Operation Shine America and Rachel Peterson, Utah State University homeless youth epidemiologist and author of Streets to Scholars the only educational program for homeless and at risk youth, will share their extensive knowledge of current statistics of Utah homeless youth, and their personal knowledge of what that life is really like.

“We know there are thousands of youth who experience homelessness in Utah each year, although we don’t have an exact number,” said Peterson. “This population is extremely difficult to enumerate for many reasons, but we do know some things about homeless youth in Utah.” She provided some staggering statistics:

• 30% of youth have been homeless for over one year

• About 1/3 of youth using services identify as LGBTQ, but this percentage is probably closer to half among all homeless youth (because LGBTQ youth often report feeling unsafe at homeless service providers).

• 42% of homeless youth have been in foster care. Through interviews Cai did with several of these youth, we know that they often experience harassment and abuse in the foster care system for their sexual orientation or gender expression, and some youth choose homelessness over these environments.

• 56% of youth experienced abuse before becoming homeless

• And 37% experienced abuse after becoming homeless

• Many youth have engaged in survival sex, trading their bodies for food, shelter or other basic necessities. The risk of exploitation for youth on the streets is extremely high.

“Nearly 40 percent of homeless youth have attempted suicide. Two of every five homeless youth in Utah have tried to take their own life. And many more do take their lives,” Peterson continued. “They are not here to tell their stories. And they are a testament to the fact that we need to make some changes. Big changes. Not telling these youth that someday things will improve, but working to make their lives better now.”

The free event, hosted by Ogden OUTreach, is open to anyone interested.

Tuesday, Oct. 29, 7:30 – 8:30 pm
Clearfield Library
562 S 1000 E, Clearfield, UT 84015

For more information, visit the Facebook event page.

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