The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Gay awareness-Speaker addresses LGBT homeless issue

By AMAD ALI/reporter

At least one in every five homeless youths is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual, NE students learned from various speakers at the LGBT Awareness presentation Oct. 27.

Most LGBT individuals become homeless because of family abuse and neglect, said Jonathan Hall, a volunteer who works with the homeless across the Metroplex.

Hall said LGBT who live on the street are at great risk of physical violence and sexual exploitation.

“Fifty-eight percent of homeless LGBT are sexually assaulted, compared to 33 percent of heterosexual homeless youth,” he said.

Hall displayed charts showing suicide rates for homeless LGBT, which is 62 percent while heterosexuals were 29 percent.

The LGBT homeless are also subject to much discrimination, Hall said. He said a residential placement facility in Michigan forced all the homosexuals to wear orange jumpsuits.

Hall also mentioned the Home for Little Wanderers located in Massachusetts that kicked people out based on their sexual orientation or gender.

People must treat the LGBT community with respect and ensure their safety, Hall said.

“It is important to understand the common experiences of LGBT. If you want to know how to provide for them, you have to know what they need,” he said.

Preventing any type of harassment or discrimination can be done by understanding and affirming differences, Hall said.

He also said to be alert to signs of harassment or abuse.

Erin Roberts, the second speaker, is transgender. Having struggled with her emotions from a young age, Roberts shared stories of her experiences.

Roberts said she was bullied at an early age because she displayed feminine characteristics as a boy.

“I wasn’t mad at them because they called me a girl. I was mad because they weren’t OK with it,” she said.

Roberts said a person’s sexual preference should not be considered a hindrance for any career aspirations.

“There’s who you want to be, and then there’s who you want to sleep with,” she said.

Roberts said many people used dehumanizing words when talking of the transgender community.

“If you have blood in you, you’re a person. Who you want to be or who you want to sleep with does not make you less human,” she said.

Before Roberts became openly transgendered, she said she often thought of suicide. She said she was fired in July for being openly transgendered.

“Since I came out, I lost my job, my family, everything. But I don’t think about putting a bullet through my brain every night. I’m alone, I’m broke, but I’m better,” she said.

Even though she has lost her family and job, Roberts says she feels free now that she can be who she wants. And since losing her job, Roberts has been volunteering to spread LGBT awareness.

She said that she is in the process of finding work again but will not stop volunteering for the LGBT community.

NE student Stephanie Farrell attended the program for extra credit.

“It was very interesting. The speakers had a good grasp on the subject and seemed very passionate about their cause,” she said.

NE student Emily Goodson said she attended as she has interest in the subject.

“I have always been interested in the LGBT community. This speech helped me understand what they go through and what people seem to neglect,” she said.

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