Saturday, April 6, 2013

The April Chadwell Adoption Story

Not the Chadwells.
UPDATE  March 31 2014:  The April Chadwell story is a hoax, but there is a story going around now about a teenager named Corey who actually (warning: outside link has descriptions of intense homophobic violence) was rejected at 15 and adopted by a new family.  This story is much more typical of what happens to rejected queer youth than the Chadwell hoax, which depicts a distraught religious couple sadly putting up their daughter for adoption; Corey ran away when his coming out resulted in an acutely dangerous home situation and was adopted by a different family without the consent of his birth family.

There's a hoax/satire that's been going around my Facebook lately, and I fear it's going to be another Felicity Marmaduke situation all over again.  I still get hits at my other blog asking if there is really a necrophiliac who got pregnant having sex with a dead man's body and is suing his family for child support.

The story going around today is slightly less outlandish, and features a 16 year old named April Chadwell who allegedly was put up for adoption by her parents when they realized she was a lesbian.  Like many of my friends, my first instinct was to be appalled; as a queer person who has friends who have been disowned by parents, stories like this do not come off as totally unreasonable.  I decided to Google April to see if there were any efforts to support her.  I found that there were only a few mentions on the Internet of this story, and they were all related to the Daily Bleach/Tyson Bowers III/Christwire.

So in other words, it's satire.

I will, however, take this opportunity to point out that one of the reasons this story seems so reasonable at first is because queer youth homelessness is seriously a big deal.  Although only 5-10% of youth identify with some sort of LGBT identity, 20-40% of homeless youth identify with an LGBT identity.  These are kids who are kicked out of their homes or wind up running away due to family conflicts.  In addition, homeless queer youth are more likely to have substance abuse problems, be sexually assaulted, and attempt suicide than their homeless heterosexual counterparts.  Like many LGBT issues, queer youth homelessness disproportionately affects youth of color, and there are programs out there meant to help the homeless/poor that explicitly discriminate against LGBT people, especially Christian-run services (the Salvation Army has a history of trying to break up same-sex couples, trying to block non-discrimination legislation, one time a trans woman was found dead outside a shelter because they tried forcing her to be housed with men) (Update 4/11/2013: Women's shelters regularly discriminate against transgender women, there's a high profile incident going on right now).  So in addition to LGBT youth being disproportionately homeless, they are also discriminated against by care providers.

It's interesting to me that so many of my friends are posting an article they believe to be about a young woman (implied to be from a family of privilege based on the white couple photographed) put up for adoption--something that is entirely fictional--and yet deceptively few have said anything about the issue of queer youth homelessness, something which happens rather frequently.

I don't mean to suggest that I am disappointed in my friends; after all, I haven't said as much as I could have on the issue of queer homelessness, either.  Rather, I think this is a good opportunity to point out that the same things that make this story so appalling to us are actually happening on a day-to-day basis, and are largely ignored by the wider gay community in favor of issues catering mostly to privileged adults.

I'm not saying that we need to forge a separate homeless advocacy movement to cater specifically to LGBT adults (although there are plenty of shelters and programs that do just that, and that's great).  Rather, I want people to realize that when the issue of homelessness comes up, in whatever context, this is an issue intimately important to our community.  It may not affect all of us, but neither do same-sex marriage or employment non-discrimination, and yet nobody seriously declares that these are not LGBT issues.

Update:  This post is getting a ridiculous number of hits, so I thought I'd mention a the Forty to None project.  It was founded by Cyndi Lauper and has a search for service providers as well as information on the subject.