ASBURY PARK – QSpot will hold its second annual LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender)Youth & Family Picnic on Sunday, August 25th, 12-7 pm at Sunset Park in Asbury Park. “It’s a traditional family picnic for the new traditional family,” said MaryAnn Buchanan, Board Chair of QSpot, the only non-profit serving the needs of the LGBT community in Monmouth and Ocean Counties.
While the focus of the picnic will be on good food, fun and relaxation, the event will also highlight the unmet needs of LGBT youth who are disproportionately impacted by a number of troubling issues including homelessness, bullying and a lack of adequate care in the children’s welfare system.
According to national surveys, 20-40% of all homeless youth are LGBT, making them 4-8 times more likely to become homeless than their heterosexual peers, due primarily to family rejection. Locally, according to staff at a homeless shelter in Toms River, 10-30% of their youth in their care are LGBT. Additionally, staff responsible for placing LGBT youth in foster homes have acknowledged that there are few, if any, families in Monmouth and Ocean Counties willing to take in an LGBT homeless teenager.
“As youth at younger and younger ages come out as LGBT, many families are not equipped or willing to accept them, as a result, they are kicked out of their homes and abandoned, a tragedy with terrible consequences for both child and family,” said John Mikytuck, QSpot Program Director.
“Providing a safe foster home for a homeless LGBT youth needs to become a priority,” said Buchanan. “I don’t think the LGBT community understands how great the need is, because if they did, I’m certain we could meet it.” New Jersey supports single or partnered LGBT individuals becoming foster parents.
QSpot’s picnic will have a live performance by Chris James, music by DJ JeanMarie, and an Asbury Park Idol contest. Everyone is encouraged to bring their own coolers, BBQ grills, chairs, tables and blankets.Food vendors will be on-site for those who just want to come and relax. For more information about the event visit www.jsqspot.org.