Grammy-winning superstar and mother of a teen Cyndi Lauper says "we gotta hear what's going on, gotta give a damn."
This week I got to hear Lauper talk about some of the things she gives a damn about. She spoke with earnestness, intelligence, humor, and candor. Some of the things she was passionate about weren't surprising, but one was: Lauper was an enthusiastic proponent about the power of the blogosphere. In fact, she challenges us to "Blog it big."
Credit Image: © Bryan Smith/ZUMAPRESS.com
The "it" Lauper was specifically talking about? Services for LGBT homeless kids.
A long-time advocate of LGBT rights and awareness, she announced this week that her True Colors Fund is launching the Forty To None project to address homelessness among LGBT youth. The project's name comes from the startling statistic that as many as 40 percent of the 1.6 million homeless kids between 12 and 17 years old at gay, lesbian, bi or trans, compared to between 3-5% of teens overall. Just as LGBT kids are disproportionately the victims of bullying and harassment, LGBT teens are disproportionately kicked out of their homes because of family rejection to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
"We're throwing away our next generation," Lauper said in a press call this week. "It's important to stand up for the kids. They are our next generation."
Lauper has committed to a substantial project that is based on her organization's year-long study of the issue in 10 cities through discussions with more than 40 organizations and countless homeless youth themselves. She said while it's painful to look at the issue, she's moved to action because they found models of intervention that worked to heal the roots problems of family rejection, communication and victimization. She said:
"This is a fixable epidemic."
The Forty to One project has a five-year plan to work on education and public awareness, public policy and capacity building of service agencies. Their work is centered on FortytoOne.org. Cyndi Lauper will be integrating the awareness messages in her book, reality show, play and on television.
She specifically told me that blogging and social media are substantialcomponents to their strategy. They found when visiting shelters that even homeless kids found ways to be online, whether at service programs or in libraries. Lauper passionately sang the praises of the influence bloggers have to reach both youth and parents. She called on bloggers to blog about the issues, to create awareness of the statistics, to mobilize response to the need, to lead parents and teens to the resources that are available to them, and to offer support struggling families.
Lauper was vehement that if continued unaddressed, the problem of LGBT homeless youth means that "we are hurting ourselves -- as human beings, as parents and as world leaders."
Sharing Forty to One's first PSA to prompt discussions, either among parents or amoung young people, is a good way to start supporting the issue.
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