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Pilot program aims to reduce LGBTQ youth homelessness

Tana Weingartner

Cincinnati-area groups are working together to test a federal pilot program aimed at reducing the number of homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) youth.

Meredith Hicks with Lighthouse Youth Services explains why the region is one of just two in the country chosen to try out new strategies targeting this vulnerable population.

"They wanted it to be a place that people could say, 'hey, if they can do it in Cincinnati we can do it too,'" says Hicks. "They didn't want to go necessarily with New York City or Los Angeles where they have great supports and resources for LGBT youth. They wanted this to be something we can test here and bring across our region, across our country, and really work to support LGBT youth nationally."

Lighthouse was one of several agencies to host a forum Tuesday on the national initiative.

Hicks estimates about 15 percent of Lighthouse's clients identify as LGBTQ, but says the region's number is probably higher because some youth may be reluctant to give that information, and others skip seeking services all together.

Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Prior to joining Cincinnati Public Radio, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She enjoys snow skiing, soccer and dogs.