Grammy Award-winning singer Cyndi Lauper launches the Forty to None project, a campaign that raises awareness for homeless gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth. Forty to None, a national project of Cyndi’s True Colors Fund, aims to engage the public and empower the rising numbers of homeless LGBT youth, who make up to 40 percent of all homeless youth in America.
“This is not a vanity project, we really want to help,” Cyndi tells Celebrity Baby Scoop in a conference call. The Girls Just Wanna Have Fun singer – who is mom to 14-year-old son Declyn – goes on to talk about the rising numbers of LGBT youth that are homeless due to family rejection, her call for a civil rights movement, and the role of bloggers in this call for peace and acceptance.
On why she got involved in the Forty to None project:
CL: “I’m a friend and family of the community, and I got sick and tired of sitting back on the sidelines and watching. I personally believe in a civil rights movement – and that’s what this is.
When I went to start the True Colors Tour, I went out on the street to take a picture with real LGBT teen kids and I found a gaggle of homeless kids, like a lot of homeless kids. I thought that there should be something to be done about this. There’s a lot of gay and transgender kids on the street who shouldn’t be just thrown away. You don’t just throw kids away. There’s no return policy on children.
It’s been a learning process for me. I wanted to do it in the right way. The True Colors Residence is only thirty beds, but it’s still a drop in the bucket. You need to have a bigger plan. We need to be able to tie these projects, all of these people, together and network them so that we build a strong network for the kids.”
On the rising numbers of homeless LGBT youth:
CL: “Forty percent of almost 1.6 million youth that are homeless are gay or transgendered and the only reason they are homeless is because they are gay or transgendered. We saw this as an epidemic – a fixable epidemic. Forty percent is a large chunk! If you can fix it by reaching out to families, and raising awareness and having a place where mom and dad can call somebody that’s not going to damn them to hell. And then talk to other parents who are in the same boat so they can share how you feel.”
On rejecting a child for being LGBT:
CL :”Rejecting a kid because he is gay is just like rejecting a kid because he has brown hair. Because gay is not a choice and that is an education that people need to know. You can’t just throw away kids! You can’t just make an uneducated decision that these kids are not good enough because they identify themselves as gay or transgendered.
I think it’s not good to throw away a population of people who are coming up in the world. We need this next generation and we need to be strong. As a mother, it’s hard to understand. But I do understand that the parents need support too.”
On her son Declyn being supportive of the project, the troubles of teens:
CL: “He does help me in other ways with this [project]. Teenagers deal with bullying everyday. They not only get bullied at school, they get bullied at home and in the locker room. The word ‘gay’ is thrown around the locker room. It’s really very difficult for them. I think that kids get bullied all the time.
My kid gets bullied, I’m I’m sure he bullies back. It’s a constant learning curve and I talk to other parents and try to educate myself on every issue that I see coming up, which is what every parent of a teenage kid should be doing right now. I’m in the same boat and I feel the more you know…knowledge is power. And it empowers the kids when you learn and do the research. And that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to educate and make people aware.”
On prejudice in our society:
CL: “There’s always going to be prejudice. You take one step at a time and you play the course. America had a dream at one point when it was a tiny country. And they made a piece of paper called the Declaration of Independence. And you know what? If you want to make that dream a reality, it’s step-by-step-by-step.
Our country has a problem with equality. When they said, ‘We the people,’ they forgot some groups. But this is the very important part, because ‘We the people’ make all the difference. And that’s what we have to remember, and we have to get involved. Every time a kid has a problem, a parent is having a problem too. That’s why I think the family centers are important. I have enough to go and get research, to go and get help. I will never give up on my kid. My kid is like every other teenager – they go through bumps. Being a teenager sucks. Sorry, it just does – it’s not easy.”
On the role of blogs in the Forty to None movement:
CL: “I would say it’s very big. The research says that the kids, even though they’re homeless, are getting online. Whether they’re at the library, or the internet cafes, they’re online. So the more information we put online, the better. If you’re a blogger, blog big. The kids need it. I’m not doing this for me, I’m doing it for the kids. At one point I realized instead of going out and asking everyone to help me do this, I’ve got to help myself to help the kids. If it’s put out there, it will be heard in so many ways.”
Project leader Gregory Lewis adds, “Blogs are such an important piece of media in this country. They influence and educate people. Through the history of the True Colors Fund, and hopefully with our Forty to None campaign, a lot of the work we’ve done has been because of the coverage on the blogs. And even today, some of the best stories we saw written about this project have come from the blogs. And we greatly appreciate that support.”
On her best advice to parents of kids who are LGBT:
CL: “Go to the Forty to None site where you can look up the different organizations to educate yourself and learn more how you can better help your kid. The parents need help on this – it’s not just a one-sided thing. The parents need a place to go too.
I think that every parent, deep down inside, wants to help their kids. But not all of us know how. We need to be educated and to get information. The more information you have, the more knowledge you have and the more you can help your kids. Without the knowledge, you feel powerless.
Knowledge is power, so go on to the website and contact the other agencies. You can talk to people about the specific problem that you’re having with your teen and maybe you will find other people in the same boat as you. When you’re isolated and you feel alone, that’s when you make mistakes.”