I read this morning in today’s Washington Examiner that the city is considering efforts to help homeless youth, LGBT homeless youth specifically.
The District would conduct a census of its homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth every five years, under a plan the D.C. Council will consider Monday.
Now I am not exactly what you would call a gay rights crusader, but I feel equally bad for anyone who is homeless, regardless of their sexual orientation or identity. I also recognize that the complicated issue of homelessness can be made even more difficult by having a lifestyle that might not be accepted by people on the street.
Homeless youth all have different stories and circumstances why they are where they are. In the eyes of the law, though, all should be equal. Sounds like a no-brainer, right?
I continued reading:
Along with the population study, the measure would also intensify the District’s efforts to serve LGBT youth by expanding the number of beds and units that are devoted to them in the city’s homeless shelters.
This makes me uneasy. Should the District of Columbia earmark beds and units for homeless people based on criteria dictated by the knuckleheads on city council? I don’t think so.
Here’s where some unintended consequences come in. Let’s say Mary Cheh gets her way, and earmarks a lot of beds for LGBT youth. What’s to stop straight youth from lying to get a bed? If one were homeless and it was freezing cold and they had to say they were gay or identified with another gender to get a good night’s sleep and a better shot at a spot in a shelter, you’d bet most people would do that.
I doubt the District is going to recreate the scene from “In the Army Now” where Pauly Shore is forced to kiss Andy Dick to prove he is gay to avoid being deployed to the middle east under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. It probably is more like checking a box.
Further, if a fixed percentage of beds and units are devoted to LGBT youth, does that mean if an insufficient number of people who self-identify as LGBT are there, the beds are held until somebody does — thus leaving empty beds and displacing other homeless people? If not, and the beds are used by non-LGBT folks, when one comes in and self-identifies, does a person who is not lose their bed?
As I understand it, this just goes for the city-run shelters, not private ones. Will the city eventually start imposing these edicts on private shelters?
Just some questions.
I understand the sentiment behind wanting to help LGBT youth, but trying to do so specifically comes with trade-offs and unintended consequences.
A better policy would be to help all homeless folks equally, regardless of sexual orientation or identity. That’s just my opinion.