Cyndi Lauper has launched a new project in the US aimed at empowering and advocating on behalf of homeless gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth, and raising awareness of the problems they face.

The Forty to None Project was launched as a result of the disproportionately high number of LGBT youth in the estimated 500,000 to 1.6 million young people in the US who are homeless or runaways.

The project said up to four in ten of those are gay, bisexual or transgender. As its name suggests, it aims to reduce the percentage of homeless youths who are LGBT from forty to zero.

Lauper said: “For far too long gay and transgender youth who are experiencing homelessness have not received the attention, resources and support that they desperately require.

“As the first national organization that works solely to address the needs of homeless gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth, the Forty to None Project will help fill that void and address the challenges experienced by this long-ignored, but important part of our society. All of us must join together to stand with America’s next generation so that they can stand on their own.”

Forty to None has produced a public service announcement featuring Cyndi Lauper and young people from various New York City based service providers, including the True Colors Residence, The Door, Green Chimneys, and Safe Space, that presents the realities of LGBT youth homelessness through tangible statistics, and encourages the audience to get informed and get involved in the Forty to None Project (see video below).

The project stems from a year-long assessment by the True Colors Fund, with the support of The Palette Fund, looking at the current state of affairs for homeless LGBT youth, including the state and level of direct services available to them and the public’s awareness of the issue.

Gregory Lewis, executive director of the True Colors Fund said: “We’ve done our homework. We traveled the country, visiting shelters, drop-in centers, outreach programs, advocacy organizations, and importantly, we talked to the kids themselves to identify the best ways we can help to address this crisis.

“Everything we’ve learned in the past year has made it clear that homeless and at-risk gay and transgender youth are being left behind, and that’s why we started the Forty to None Project. We will work tirelessly to ensure that these young people receive the attention, resources and support they need and deserve.”

The True Colors Fund, in partnership with The Palette Fund and the Williams Institute at UCLA also conducted a web-based survey to the National Runaway Switchboard’s network of 10,000 direct service providers across the country.

The LGBT Homeless Youth Provider Survey assessed the experiences of 354 homeless youth organisations in providing services and programs to LGBT youth. It also assessed the prevalence of LGBT youth within the homeless populations being served by these organisations, with full results to be released next month.

The survey initially found 43 percent of clients served by drop-in centres identified as LGBT. 30 percent of street outreach clients identified as LGBT and the same proportion of clients in housing programmes, including emergency shelter, transitional living programmes, permanent housing programmes, independent living and host home programmes, identified as LGBT (26 percent gay or bisexual and 4 percent trans).

Running away from home because of family rejection was the most-cited reason for youth homelessness followed by being forced out of the home by family members.

Watch the project’s first public service announcement below: