Leafs GM Brian Burke learned that members of the LGBT community are over-represented at places such as Covenant House.
For Brian Burke, walking in another man’s shoes meant sleeping on someone else’s cardboard.
The Leafs GM took part in the Covenant House Sleep Out, Thursday night. Burke and a group of prominent Toronto business people slept on a piece of cardboard on a chilly late fall night to support the charity which supplies food, counseling and other services for homeless youth.
“To put this in perspective, I had a nice sleeping bag and I had nice warm clothes on,” Burke said. “I didn’t suffer nearly as badly as a typical homeless person who’s not properly dressed and it was still cold. It was noisy and uncomfortable.”
What Burke learned when he spoke to some of the 16 to 24-year-olds is that members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community are overrepresented among homeless youth.
“There is a big LGBT contingent because kids have come out to their parents and have been thrown out of their home,” Burke said.
“A good chunk of these kids are from upper middle class and affluent families. It’s not just a poverty cycle. It’s not just a social issues. These are kids that I really believe with just a little bit of help, a little support, they can avoid become a statistic, a suicide or a death on the street or incarcerated later in life.”
“People don’t choose their sexual orientation. There is absolutely no logical basis to reject them on that basis but it happens and Covenant House is there to help pick up the pieces.”
If you have a crisis of conscience when approached for change by a homeless person, you share a conundrum with the Leafs GM.
“I understand both sentiments where people say they are going to walk past or if they give those homeless people money. For the person who walks past I would say that’s a person who needs help. If you are not comfortable giving them money then make a contribution to Covenant House and help that person get off the street.”
Learn more at covenanthouse.ca .