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LGBTQ Homeless Youth Summit May 2-5 in Chicago
2014-03-26

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CHICAGO — Windy City Times is hosting a summit May 2-5 on LGBTQ youth in the Chicago region, to assess the current issues impacting homeless youth, and new solutions to these complex issues. Kim Hunt, executive director of Affinity Community Services, is the summit's director.

The title of the summit is "Owning Our Lives: Dream It. Speak It. Do It!!" The website for registration, donations and full information is chicagosummit.lgbthomelessness.com/ .

Each of the summit's three days will have a different area of focus:

— Friday, May 2, 2-8 p.m.

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital

Open to people 25 and under who have been impacted by homelessness.

Registration: FREE

— Sat., May 3, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

University of Illinois at Chicago, Behavioral Sciences Bldg, 1007 W. Harrison

Open to youth, nonprofits, government agencies, politicians, foundations, activists, service providers, academic researchers and individuals working on these issues.

Registration: $45 adults, youth free

— Mon., May 5, 8 a.m.-Noon

Museum of Broadcast Communications, 360 N. State St.

Report to government agencies, politicians, foundations ( private, public and corporate foundations encouraged to attend ), academics, and donors.

Registration: FREE

The first two days of the summit will be broken down into general plenary sessions and facilitated workshops focused on areas including: Housing issues ( shelters, DCFS, HUD, etc. ), public policy ( city, county, state, federal ), legal issues ( emancipation, public safety ), education and job training, healthcare access, mental health and substance abuse.

While attendance at the summit is focused on youth, non-profits, service providers, government and foundations, the summit does need help from the general public. This is how the LGBTQ and allied communities can be engaged:

— Donations to help cover the costs of the summit, including stipends for youth attending, food, staff, and other expenses.

— Experienced facilitators are needed for the first two days.

— Volunteers are needed with the following skill sets: Video taping, photography, note-taking, general support.

State Rep. Greg Harris issued a statement about the Summit: "As an appropriation chairman overseeing the State budget, every day I see how education, sports, arts, healthcare, substance abuse counseling, physical and behavioral health, child care, parenting, affordable housing and a myriad of other issues overlap, and how challenging it is for many youth, particularly homeless youth, to access and use services. Everything we do to collaborate, coordinate and help youth access and navigate across institutions, geography, services and organizations are tasks we owe to thousands of young people who are struggling to achieve their full potential."

The summit is a followup to the award-winning Windy City Times Generation Halsted series. That series of articles, plus several other important reports on issued related to LGBTQ youth, are available for download on the summit's website.

"Windy City Times wants to bring a public spotlight to these issues, inviting all major and smaller agencies and individuals addressing LGBTQ youth, including youth themselves, to participate in a new way of working together, similar to the diverse and transparent approach to the March on Springfield for Marriage Equality in 2013," said Summit host Tracy Baim, Windy City Times publisher, and founder of the March.

Additional Summit Team members are: Youth organizers: Breezy Connor, Keyshia LayMorris and Zanareyah Phillips; and Bonn Wade, Adult Ally.

"Marriage is behind us. Housing is next. What are we doing to fight for the cause? The time starts NOW!" LayMorris said.

The summit has several goals, including:

— Looking at the complex causes of homelessness

— Shining a light on existing work being done

— Reporting on the gaps and needs

— Listing short-term and long-term strategies

— Creating action steps

"Addressing LGBT youth homelessness requires a team effort. This summit presents an opportunity for everyone—from policy makers and faith leaders to advocates and activists—to come together and find new ways to address an ongoing challenge," said Commissioner Bechara Choucair, M.D., Chicago Department of Public Health.

The foundations and groups so far assisting with the summit include: The Crossroads Fund, True Colors Fund, Polk Bros Foundation, Alphawood Foundation Chicago, Liz and Eric Lefkofsky, Pierce Family Foundation, Lehman-Stamm Family Fund, Woods Fund of Chicago, Heartland Human Care Services, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, Affinity Community Services, Lambda Legal, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Chicago House, Howard Brown Health Center, Orbitz, and ChicagoPride.com . The venues donating their facilities are: Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital, the University of Illinois at Chicago Gender and Sexuality Center, and the Museum of Broadcast Communications.

Information and links to registration and donation pages here:

chicagosummit.lgbthomelessness.com or email: youthsummit@affinity95.org .


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