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Congratulations
 
Congratulations Carl Siciliano
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 06/29/12
Last updated on: 06/29/12
 
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Carl Siciliano.

Congratulations to Carl Siciliano, the founder and executive director of New York's Ali Forney Center for homeless and runaway glbtq youth, on being named by the White House a "Champion of Change." He and other leaders in the fight against youth homelessness will attend an event at the White House on July 12, 2012 to discuss policies and best practices in dealing with the crisis of homeless youth.

The Champions of Change initiative brings leaders on policy challenges facing the country to the White House each week. Some of the past glbtq honorees have included the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) for its work against bullying and activist Cleve Jones for his efforts to fight HIV/AIDS.

The Ali Forney Center is the nation's largest and most comprehensive organization dedicated to homeless glbtq youth. It provides homeless youth, aged 16-24, with the support and services they need to escape the streets and begin to live healthy and independent lives.

In addition to emergency and transitional housing, the Center also offers street outreach, case management, primary medical care, HIV testing, mental health assessment and treatment, food and showers, an employment assistance program, as well as psychiatry referrals and workshops for professionals on issues facing homeless youth.

Siciliano has been working with homeless youth in New York City since 1994. Though no longer affiliated with the church, Siciliano was a monk at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert in Northern New Mexico prior to his life of advocacy.

Siciliano founded the Ali Forney Center in 2002 and named it for a young homeless man who was murdered in 1997.

Siciliano has said that the most difficult thing about his work is seeing so many kids who have been rejected by their families for being glbtq. "Young people should be able to be loved for who they are. It is very painful to hear our kids talk about how their parents cruelly, and often violently, respond to their being gay. It is terrible that so many of our kids have been treated in such an inhuman way," he told Ramon Johnson of GayLife.

Julie Bolcer of The Advocate reports that Sciliano issued the following statement upon learning of the White House honor. "It is thrilling that as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Ali Forney Center, we are also being recognized by the White House for our pioneering work on behalf of homeless LGBT youth," he said.

He added: "When we opened the Ali Forney Center, the challenges we faced were daunting; there was very little awareness of the plight of homeless LGBT youth, especially on the federal level, and it was difficult to obtain support for our work. I am very grateful to President Obama for recognizing the needs of homeless LGBT youth and incorporating their care into his vision of ending youth homelessness. I am also grateful to the White House for recognizing the quality, innovation, and importance of the Ali Forney Center, which is a testament to all of the individuals who have served on the board, staff and as volunteers."

In the video below, Siciliano speaks of the origins and work of the Ali Forney Center.

 
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