(Excerpt from open letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo from Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center in NYC. Read the entire letter here)
Dear Governor Cuomo,
Last fall, I was honored to receive a call from your campaign staff inviting me to bring homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youths from the Ali Forney Center to a campaign event for you in Brooklyn with President Clinton. The youths were excited to see you and President Clinton, and we felt the invitation demonstrated a real concern from you about their lives and their plight.
Now, six months later, we are stunned and horrified by your proposal to put an end to any New York State support for homeless youth shelters. In New York City, there are 3,800 youth who go without shelter every night, over 1,000 of whom are LGBT. Fewer than 300 shelter beds currently exist for these kids, and every night, thousands are forced to fend for themselves on the streets.
Mr. Governor, I invite you to stop into one of our youth shelters. Maybe you can explain to our kids why they should be turned out of their beds and put in the street so you can give tax breaks to millionaires, to paraphrase your own father in his address at the 1984 Democratic Convention.
Maybe you could explain how they are supposed to survive alone on the streets at night. I don’t have an answer for them, and their pain and confusion are palpable.
Most of our clients are the most vulnerable LGBT youth in the community, rejected and abused by parents who cannot accept having gay children, discarded and thrown out of their homes simply for being LGBT.
The facts are shocking: studies show that 62 percent of homeless LGBT youth consider or attempt suicide, and 20 percent of homeless LGBT youth in New York City become infected with HIV.
On their behalf, I implore you to protect homeless LGBT youth, and all homeless youth, not leave them out in the cold. Your words and actions will have a direct impact on these young New Yorkers.
They at least deserve an explanation.
Ali Forney Center
New York City
For more information about the Ali Forney Center, visit this link.