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ABC's 20/20 to Report on Homeless Gay Youth

Kids Disowned and Thrown Out of their Homes

Paying a High Price for their Sexual Orientation

Compiled By GayToday

New York---On 20/20 Monday(ABC-TV-- September 13, 8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) Connie Chung will report on a disturbing new trend of homeless gay and lesbian teenagers who say they have been thrown out of their homes by their parents.

From the smallest towns of America's heartland, homeless teenagers tell Ms. Chung they were disowned, left to fend for themselves, because of their sexual orientation, on "), on the ABC television network.
homeless.jpg - 8.51 K 20/20's Connie Chung

"Daniel" says his mother threw him out of his home when he told her he was gay. He was 17 years old. Daniel says he was thrown out because he is gay. "I was an embarrassment to my family," he tells Ms. Chung.

"I remember my mom saying . . . when I was ready to live my life right, then I could come home again." With nowhere to turn in this small Nebraska town of just 300 people, and with just $200 to his name, Daniel boarded a bus to Los Angeles, where he has been homeless and struggling ever since.

When Ginger was just 16 she told her mother she was a lesbian.

"My mom asked me to get my stuff and leave . . . I didn't know what to do or where to go, 'cause it was a small town and there was nobody there to help me." Ginger had tried to keep her sexual orientation a secret.

Now, in her tiny Iowa hometown where everyone knows each other, Ginger is an outcast: "They didn't want anything to do with me because I am gay."

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Verna Eggleston is the executive director of Hetrick Martin Institute, a New York City agency serving gay and lesbian youth. She believes kids like Daniel and Ginger are part of a frightening trend: "We serve 1300 homeless kids a month. I think more kids are getting thrown out because they're gay," she tells Ms. Chung.

Without a home, or family, these teenagers often pay devastating price for their sexual orientation. Experts say about a third of all teenage suicide attempts are by gay and lesbian kids.

Often, these teens turn to prostitution to survive: ". . . maybe it doesn't start with survival sex. Maybe it comes with some adult saying I'll give you a bed. I'll give you a hot meal. You can stay at my house. And then comes the attack," Ms. Eggleston says.

Ms. Eggleston says most parents think they are doing the right thing by throwing their child out. "They think they're parenting. They feel like if you can't do it my way, my rules, then you're out the door and you need to go somewhere else."

Ginger, now 20 years old, has been homeless since her mother threw her out four years ago. Ms. Chung speaks with Ginger's mother and brings both mother and daughter together to talk for the first time about sexual orientation and whether they can heal their wounded relationship. "It's hard to talk about your sexuality . . . it's hard," she tells her daughter.

Many of these teenagers say they wish they were not gay and, if they had a choice, they would be heterosexual. But it is not a choice, "Daniel" tells Ms. Chung: ". . . if I had the choice, I wouldn't... choose something that would make my life so difficult."

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