PRIDE!Kent encourages members to participate in homeless initiative

Regina Garcia Cano

Mika Major, director of programs at the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center in Cleveland, speaks to students about homelessness at last night’s PRIDE! Kent meeting at the Student Center. Caitlin Sirse | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

PRIDE!Kent, in conjunction with the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community of Greater Cleveland, increased awareness of homeless youth in Ohio last night.

Mika Major, director of programs of the LGBT Community of Greater Cleveland, said as of 2007, 1.6 million youths live on the streets in United States – 42 percent of them may be gay.

Major used a video to explain their Metro Youth Outreach program to PRIDE!Kent members.

As part of the program, every Thursday between 5:30 and 10 p.m. in West Cleveland, a mobile clinic provides medical services, HIV tests, condoms and clothing to homeless youths. MYO also helps homeless find a shelter, Major said.

According to the video MYO helped 1,200 youths last year.

“I did know a kid that had to trade sex for shelter, but I did not realize there are so many kids that are in the same situation,” said Krystal Henning, senior art history major, describing someone she knew who had sex in order to have somewhere to stay.

Major said homeless youths start trading shelter or food for sex after 72 hours of abandoning their homes.

One girl in the video said she left home because she is a lesbian.

“It is just such a huge problem and only one organization with a 600,000 dollars budget can’t do everything,” Henning said. “They need more.”

PRIDE!Kent President Leora Rzepka encouraged the audience to attend the organization’s art auction on Sept. 18. She said part of the profits will benefit the LGBT Community of Greater Cleveland.

Contact minority affairs reporter Regina Garcia Cano at [email protected].