LGBTQ+ youth often end up homeless; local programs helping
Half of Bexar County homeless youth identify LGBTQ+
SAN ANTONIO – Many people have been disowned by their families and some have said they have been abused at shelters, all because of their gender affiliation or sexual orientation.
In Bexar County, it's estimated that 50% of homeless youth identify as LQBTQ+, which is higher than the national average.
Growing up, Alexander Jalen Reid said it wasn't a secret that he was gay.
"Everybody kind of already knew because I was very feminine," Reid said.
The 18-year-old said growing up gay wasn't easy.
"People used to call me all types of names," Reid said.
He said most of his family disagreed with his sexual orientation but loved him anyway, but that's not the case for everyone.
"I had a friend who committed suicide. He was, like, my parents kicked me out, and I felt really bad for him," Reid said.
For reasons beyond his sexual orientation, Reid lived in a few foster homes up until last month, when he went to Haven for Hope and found Thrive Youth Center, a location on the shelter's campus for LGBTQ+ youth.
At Thrive Youth Center, there are five different dorm rooms with two beds per room, which means there are 10 people, ages 18-24, from the LGBTQ+ community who can live there at once.
Haven for Hope CEO Kenny Wilson said people end up at Thrive Youth Center for many reasons.
"So many of the youth LGBT youth have been abused, have been ostracized, had been kicked out of their home. I think that's going to be a more prolific aspect of what we do and has to be, for every city, a key component of a homeless strategy," Wilson said.
it's a strategy that must include issues related to homelessness.
The South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless reports that 100% of the LGBTQ+ youth on the housing wait list are experiencing mental health or substance abuse challenges.
Thrive Youth Center case workers help homeless LGBTQ+ youth with counseling, education, life issues, relationship skills and finding jobs and housing.
Reid already has two jobs and is looking for an apartment.
But the best part, he said, is that "I just get to be myself."
Watch KSAT's homeless special at 9 p.m. on Thursday
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