GSTA to Raise Money for Teen Homelessness

GSTA+to+Raise+Money+for+Teen+Homelessness

Photographer: Tomas Castelazo

Avery Norwood, Reporter

The Gay Straight Trans* Alliance (GSTA)  is one of many gay, trans*, and straight-supporting clubs running in a Colorado high school. The GSTA is a safe place for teens in the LGBTQ community in MSHS. The Colorado news station, KKTV, came down to the school on October 13 to write a story on a project called the “Night Out”. It is an outside sleepover that will take place in Colorado Springs on the night of November 12. This is a fundraiser put on annually by Urban Peak, an organization dedicated to serving youth experiencing homelessness in Colorado Springs.

Often, homelessness can be perceived as people living in shelters or hopping from house to house, when really, the rates of homeless people are going up every year.  Homelessness does not just affect older people. It has been affecting children and teens for a while now.  Just in the last year, The Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that there were about 30,000 homeless children and teens in America. Advocates believe there is much more teen homelessness in our schools and in our cities that we are completely unaware of.  Data complied from the Department of Education says more than 1.1 million children in public school in America do not have permanent homes or a place to live.

California is the highest ranked state in the country with homeless children living secret lives.  A lot of the teens that are homeless live in old motels, cars, and/or emergency shelters. Public schools continue to raise awareness in finding help for these homeless teens. Overall, most people do not understand how high the percentage is of teen homelessness just in District 14.

Hidden ares of the country that do not have public transportation, many homeless shelters or affordable living, like the cities forcing families and people to live in camps, bounce from house to house, or even live with their entire family in a car.

Recently schools have been trying to get more personally involved with their students by trying to find them a tutor to help them with classes, or even try and find a safe place for the teens who are no longer living at home or need help finding a home.

The idea of this event is to let people experience what it is like to have to sleep outside with nobody, no clothes, and no food. As Fries said, along with many other members of the GSTA club, at young ages many of them were homeless; this gave them the true passion to reach out to other homeless teens.

Wyatt Fries (12), current GSTA president, says that, at a meeting involving GSTAs from all around the state, everyone was focused on finding something out of the ordinary, or that most fundraisers do not support. Wyatt, along with the other current presidents, decided to raise money for homeless teens in the LGBTQ community, by participating in the outdoor sleepover.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE OR DONATE:

Fill out a registration form at: http://www.urbanpeak.org/colorado-springs/events/night-out-for-homeless-youth/.

If you have any questions, send an email to Andrea.Thomson@urbanpeak.org, or call 719-630-3223 (ext. 2820)

Isaac Green says that when he sees a homeless person or teen on the streets, it breaks his heart. He tries to imagine them with a better life, in a warm room with food and people that love them.  Green says that he realizes that our thoughts control what we do and what happens to others and ourselves. “If I think positive about homeless people,  rather than how they aren’t doing anything to help themselves, hopefully, eventually, it will help them,” he says.

Fries and Andy Covington (12), former GSTA president, both agree on the fact that some shelters will not allow you in because of your religion or sexuality. They both say that they couldn’t imagine being on the streets alone and scared. If there is anything they can do to prevent this and create a safe shelter for anyone that needs it, they would do it in a heartbeat.

Fries says that he would never push someone to come out to their family or friends if they do not want to. He promisingly claims that, no matter what, this is the sort of club that we wish for people to feel safe in, because there is no judgement there. If you need a safety net, this is your safety net.

Fries says that, often, teens are afraid to come out to their parents because they are scared they could be kicked out, or their family will no longer love them.  All the teens in the club agreed that it was a difficult thing, coming out to their parents, but in the end, they felt relieved.  Hopeful, that although there are struggles with being gay or trans’, it will also make life easier.

The outside sleepover will be held at the Urban Peak Youth Center on November 12.  Anybody that wants to come is invited. To donate to the MSHS GSTA fund, click here. $50.00 is equal to one night of shelter for one youth.