"The Hamilton County (Ohio) Safe and Supported Community Plan to prevent homelessness for LGBTQ youth focuses on the planning process and details implementation of the plan over the course of the next two years.
It is the product of six-months of hard work and dedication by community leaders, youth, and youth-serving agencies."
Uh huh. Go on.
"Community organizations and staff contributed valuable time and resources to the planning process. The Steering Committee included about 20 members who consistently participated in planning activities. All of their time was either volunteer, or covered by their agency.
Additional team members volunteered their time to the planning process by participating in team meetings addressing specific objectives of the Plan. Initiative partners donated the use of their space to host community events."
Ok, uh huh. Continue.
"Host organizations included the University of Cincinnati, Office of Mayor John Cranley, Cincinnati Public Schools and Lighthouse Youth Services. Caracole, Lighthouse Youth Services and Strategies to End Homelessness donated meeting space for Steering Committee and team meetings."
Well, I was utterly impressed. Especially since it was dedicated to the LGBTQ community. Which I wholeheartedly support. But I'll get to that issue in a moment.
So, we have about 15-20 various people across federal, state, county, local agencies & organizations devoted their time to put out this wonderful report.
Until I started reading it. And dissecting this atrocity of a report.
But you couldn't tell by the way it was written because it was narrated in such a way as to make you feel like a total bigot if you didn't agree.
Hmmm. If disagreeing with this report makes me wrong, I don't want to be right.
What garbage. I haven't been this offended by the insulting of my intelligence since the old white lady in the elevator tucked in her purse and cowarded in the corner until I jumped off.
Do I have specifics? Yes, I have specifics. Here's some of their activities...
1. "Developing organization nondiscrimination policy or programmatic policy (e.g., how to correctly assign a trans* youth to a shelter bed), staff training, visual welcome signs, improved client services for LGBTQ youth, etc."
Ok, I can't even go any further without addressing this stupid approach.
So, instead of just sticking youth in a bed, we have to dedicate funding dollars for training on how to assign a "trans*" youth to a bed.
Wth is a "trans*" youth? Oh I get it. Trans-whatever. And this effort takes actual training to do so. I thought it was as simple as saying, "Here's your bed".
Nope. Because these LGBTQ youth are so difficult to approach. As if they are from some extra-terrestrial planet and fell from the sky. Assigning beds to a homeless gay youth is now an exerciese in flipping through a manual to figure out how to assign a bunk.
And visual welcome signs. Wth is that about?? Are we back in the 40s and 50s?? "Lesbians, Gays, Transgender Welcome". Or how about "LGBTQ Youth Friendly".
Let's not stop there. Let's give them their own water fountain too. Are you getting the picture?
2. "Create a new clinic standard at CHECK Foster Care Clinic asking patients their preferred name at the start of each visit to respect the requests of all youth, including those who are gender nonconforming."
Let's stop there again.
I thought those who signed up to service culturally diverse populations in the social service industry flapped their mouths off at the interviews, bloviating about how comfortable they were working with youth from all different backgrounds.
So why the need to remind them to ask the youth how they would like to be addressed?
[clear throat] I'm sorry. Last time I checked that was called approaching people with respect and dignity. Obviously some of these people haven't had any home-training, on-the-job training, or any other kind of training.
And let me say this again. You cannot manufacture or train people to respect and treat others with dignity. Doesn't work.
Here's one of my favorites. These morons weren't going to let me down yet...
3. "Increase safe dating experiences among LGBTQ youth."
How? (And I can't make this next one up)....
"Promote safe dating at LGBTQ youth events such as the GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Education Network) prom."
Okay. Let me see if I'm painting this picture right.
Bum-rush the GLSEN prom. Setup a table. Fan out some safe sex brochures. Smack a fishbowl down with some penis condoms. Separate fishbowl with some vagina condoms.
Give them a thumbs up to enjoy the prom. But remember, you LGBTQ youth, "No glove, no love" should be rule tonight.
Are we going insane?!?! The LGBTQ youth face the same sexual experience challenges as any other youth. What makes them any different from the teenager in your own house?
Except you may be telling 2 male youth who are couple to keep both of their popsicles in their pants. And 2 female youth to keep their feet in jars tonight.
What's the difference? There isn't one.
And just when I thought I couldn't be more flabbergasted by the stupidity of this report....
3. "Connect with the Ruth Ellis Center to better understand their model for improving collaboration between RHY and child welfare systems to help families coming to terms with their child’s LGBTQ identity."
Coming to terms with their child's LGBTQ identity?
As if they've diagnosed with stage-4 cancer. As if they've afflicted with some terminal disease. The parents need to "come to terms" with their identity.
How about "coming to terms" that you are piss-poor parent? Where's that narrative?
Or coming to terms with the fact that he or she is your son or daughter and no matter who they identify with, they should be welcomed with open arms.
Or coming to terms with the fact that when you decided to "put out" your LGBGT kid, who is still a minor under your legal custody, you just commited a class one felony. Abandonment. Neglect.
This nation doesn't want to have that difficult conversation. And neither does Hamilton County, OH.
Overall, this country's approach to homeless youth is fundamentally flawed. It can't be overhauled or fixed. It needs to be uprooted.
By continuing to stress emergency assistance, we are compounding the problem. We are continually finding ourselves as a nation managing a problem. Instead of solving a problem.
Permanent rapid re-housing is a solution. The Salvation Army shelters are much needed in our communities.
But are ill-equipped to deal with youth who were dependents under the care of adults (often times, the state) and then thrust into the life of an adult.
Getting homeless youth back into a permanent housing situation quickly. This requires community collaboration, intestinal fortitude and organizational discipline.
All of which Hamilton County, OH lacks to the 10th degree.
We must transform our approach. Change our thinking.