Forty percent of the homeless population is made up of LGBT youth. Forty percent of over a half a million people is far too many. LGBT youth already face serious disadvantages growing up in America, and those that are homeless find daily life even more difficult.

“Outside” is an independent documentary recently produced and directed by Natalie Avery. The powerful film follows four gay homeless youth for four years as they go through their daily lives on the streets. In 2009, the documentary won a Regional Emmy for Best Documentary in its topical category.

For those that are lucky enough to never have been a homeless LGBT youth, the documentary explores the reasons behind LGBT youth homelessness. It also examines how both society and the LGBT youth themselves may contribute to their endangerment. It is a stark picture, but one that must be seen if we are to address the issue.

“Outside” could be a powerful tool in examining and addressing the problem of LGBT youth homelessness. The more people understand and refuse to accept the dangers faced by so many youth, the more we can do to help these young people.

The entire hour-long film is available to watch online on KUED’s website for free. The Human Rights Campaign also has a report available online, Growing Up LGBT in America, which is a survey of over 10,000 LGBT youth between the ages of 13 and 17 in the U.S. The guide explores the realities these youth experience every day, the good and the bad. It is also a call to action for adults to positively impact these youths’ lives.