Rapid City LGBTQ+ center lends a helping and supportive hand to homeless youth
Many people who identify as LGBTQ+ experience obstacles and challenges, including one life-altering challenge, homelessness. And, one website has recently honored a Rapid City individual who works with this specific community.
RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) -While homelessness continues to be an issue nationwide, most aren’t looking deeply into the demographics that make up the homeless community, and one often overlooked demographic Such as youths and more so youths that identify as LGBTQ+.
Nationally, 40 percent of the homeless population, seeking counseling and services between the ages of 13 to 24, are LGBTQ+.
“If only 5 to 7 percent of the population identify as LGBTQ+ we shouldn’t have an overabundance and a disproportioned number of youth that are seeking services for being homeless, other than it all equates back to rejection,” said Joe Barb, executive director at LGBTQ+ Family Connections Center.
But one trans male who was rejected by more than half of his family is now inspiring others.
Joe Barb heard the boys’ story and wanted to help. Barb then started The LGBTQ+ Family Connections Center.
The center offers resources to a community that may not have been supported.
“Help meet the needs of housing insecurities and then provide a safe place for counseling, for counselors that are understanding and have worked with LGBTQ+ so that they understand the unique needs and obstacles,” said Barb.
Merryn Johns, editor in chief at queerforty.com, recently wrote an article on the center and states, “I have been an editor-in-chief in the LGBTQ media space for 21 years and in all that time, while we have won significant rights for our community and made substantial cultural and legislative progress, one thing has not changed: the shocking numbers of homeless LGBTQIA+ youth....”
The LGBTQ+ Family Connections Center started with virtual counseling around six months ago.. and continues to offer services online. The group plans to have a building purchased in February... additionally, they plan to have 10 full amenity cabins, a community center, and counseling offices.
“To help build more of a community where if yourself or someone were coming out, there was a place to go. There’s a place where you’re welcomed and affirmed,” said Barb.
Johns says Barb’s work is important. Johns goes on to say, “LGBTQ+ youth all across America are at risk of housing insecurity, but they are especially underserved in the rural Midwest where Joe is developing a model at grassroots level like no other before. I’m excited to see the impact his vision makes on this crucial issue.”
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