Group urges more state support for homosexual teens living on streets
Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter
With several homosexual teenagers said to be roaming the streets unattached, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) is alleging that the State has turned its back on these children.
Speaking at a Gleaner Editors' Forum yesterday, representatives of J-FLAG said many of these children were forced to leave their homes and communities because their parents have either put them out or they have been threatened by community members because of their sexual orientation.
They expressed that some of these children, mostly boys, are as young as 13 years old and are not getting any assistance from state agencies.
Latoya Nugent, J-FLAG's public education and community outreach manager, said state agencies are often afraid to assist the children because of their sexual orientation.
"When you have boys under 18 - and as young as 13 - who are on the streets, that is something that the CDA (Child Development Agency) should be responsible for. But then, nothing happens because everybody is afraid to touch them," she said.
Dane Lewis, J-FLAG's executive director, said the group has been given the runaround in its quest to get these children off the streets.
"The CDA has suggested that it is the police's responsibility first, and the police say, 'Our hands are tied'," Lewis added.
CISOCA UNAWARE OF PHENOMENON
Checks with the CDA and the Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) revealed that they are not in possession of any such reports currently.
Acting CEO of the CDA, Rosalee Gage-Grey, said she was unaware of such reports and indicated that any child who turns up at any one of the CDA's 14 parish offices in need of security, the agency would assist, despite their sexual orientation.
Adding that cases of children being on the streets would have to be referred to the CDA offices and then be investigated, Gage-Grey stated: "If there are specific cases, they need to be brought to the CDA and we will deal with them accordingly."
Deputy superintendent in charge of CISOCA, Veronica Gilzene, also said her department was unaware of the phenomenon. She said her office has a representative from the CDA, and if homosexual children are being forced out of their homes and communities and the police are notified, they have a duty to call the CDA.
Meanwhile, J-FLAG is adamant that the State needs to do more to assist the children, as it is often the State's neglect that causes them to become delinquent and exhibit antisocial characteristics.