A while back, this popped up on Facebook:
Unsurprisingly, a Google search brought me mostly to repeats of this line with no attribution, but I did finally find a blog post that gave the name of the study the info was taken from and then found a PDF of the study itself: Durso-Gates LGBT Homeless Youth Study.
I must admit, I read through this sucker two or three times trying to figure it out. There's a lot of talk and very little access to actual figures. However, the part of it that puts a lie to the cool little graphic above is actually in the executive summary:
Among both homeless and non-homeless clients, 30% identified as gay or lesbian and 9% identified as bisexual.Emphasis mine, though if you need to be told that, you probably should quit reading now and go back to eating the finger paint.
Thirty plus nine...That's almost forty! But wait, what's that? Among both homeless and non-homeless clients? So an unknown number of those homeless LGBT children aren't actually homeless? Nowhere in the study does it actually break out the proportion of homeless vs. "at risk" youth. (It might also be worth noting that, while the graphic up there clearly wants you to be thinking of teenagers, "youth" is defined as "up to age 24.")
However, given the caveat that the study actually lumps homeless and non-homeless together, the top reason for running away (or thinking about it, I guess?) thing really is accurate:
Given that the top reason for straight youth to be homeless is physical or sexual abuse, I've gotta say that it makes the gay kids seem kinda wimpy in comparison.
Anyway, I was digging through this study and discussing it on Facebook with a friend of mine who was a math major and expressed frustration that the actual proportion of homeless vs. not-homeless isn't actually broken out anywhere (though I can infer a few things from what is there, I don't like jumping to conclusions). Another friend said, "Well, what does it matter?"
It matters to me, and should matter to anyone else actually concerned with the issue, for one simple reason:
When you lead your argument off with a lie, especially one so easily proven false, everything else you say immediately becomes questionable.
And you can make the same point without lying. Look at these two statements:
- LGBTQ youth make up 40% of the homeless under age 24.
- The percentage of LGBTQ youth who are homeless is disproportionate to their percentage in society as a whole.
Sally Ride died last week. She did what a lot of people can't do: she was with the same person for 27 years. It just so happens that this person was a woman. (And an Irishwoman; I mean, if we're manufacturing outrage, let's go full derp!) Although her sexuality was undoubtedly not a secret to people who actually knew her, she never bothered to tell the world at large, rather living her life as we heterosexuals take for granted: as though who you fuck isn't really that big a deal.
Nevertheless, her posthumous revelation made the world shit itself. To wit:
Now, I'll admit I have two problems with this. First and foremost: No one has any business using this woman to make their point. She was an historic figure and a public one. She recently served on President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology. If she had wanted to campaign for gay rights, she would have done so.
Look, not all gay people are political activists. Most aren't. Just the same as most heterosexual people are apathetic about politics. Sally Ride had her passions and worked toward them. No one right now is talking about Ms. Ride's efforts at encouraging females in the STEM fields; it's all ZOMG, SALLY RIDE WAS A LESBO! I'm sure that's what she wanted her legacy to be.
Now, set that aside for a moment. Let's examine the claim that's being made. "Her partner of 27 years will not receive any survivor benefits to which she is entitled because of the Defense of Marriage Act." Right away, we can tell this is a lie, 'cause if anything, DOMA would have prevented her from being entitled to said benefits, not from receiving benefits to which she was entitled.
Moreover, I can't find any indication that there are benefits to which Ms. O'Shaughnessy would be entitled if DOMA didn't exist and the two were allowed to be married. Ride was employed by NASA, according to her astronaut bio, for about eleven years (I see no indication of further federal employment; though I know she was on the committee investigating the Columbia disaster, NASA does not credit her as an employee at that time, which leads me to believe a consultancy was much more likely). While she apparently could have let retirement benefits she accrued during that time sit until retirement, and while those federal benefits would grant survivorship only to a spouse, I see no reason to believe a woman smart enough to be an astronaut would have been stupid enough to not take the lump-sum payment and reinvest in something her partner would be able to inherit. Both IRAs and 401(k)s can fairly simply be left to a "nonspouse beneficiary" (the negative tax ramifications to doing this with a 401(k) ended in 2007, apparently). Life insurance, including FEGLI, can be left to whomever you damn well please. I don't know if she qualified for any sort of pension during her years on faculty at UC San Diego, but if she did and for some reason could not move the benefits and her partner was unable to inherit...Well, that's not a federal matter, and would have nothing to do with DOMA.
Again, I am not a supporter of the Defense of Marriage Act. I think it's a blatant violation of the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution. (And probably far from the only one out there right now: witness the argument in favor of concealed carry reciprocity.) But I cannot see how the claim made in the graphic above (and in quite a few recent editorials) can possibly be true. Yet again: if you start off your argument with a lie, you weaken your position.
(For the record, I do realize I could be wrong on the Sally Ride question. But I don't think I am. It would take a rather large series of coincidences and financial illiteracy on the part of an apparently quite intelligent woman. And it still wouldn't make the statement on the graphic true, for the reason already explained.)