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15 Jun

An attractive sorority girl with almond eyes and delicate dimples, she was the product of a charmed Boise, Idaho, upbringing: a father who worked in finance, a private­school education, a pool in the backyard, all the advantages that an upper-middle-class suburban childhood can provide – along with all the expectations attendant to that privilege. I remember my first day of college, my parents came with me to register for classes, and they sat down with my adviser and said, ' So, what's the best way to get her into law school?

'"Jackie just followed her parents' lead understanding implicitly that discipline and structure went hand in hand with her family's devout Catholic beliefs.

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"I was convinced somebody was going to blast it on Facebook."So while Jackie hoped for the best, she knew the call she was making had the potential to not end well. When her debit card didn't work on the second day of the trip, she figured it was because she was in another country.

Meanwhile, as societal advancements have made being gay less stigmatized and gay people more visible – and as the Internet now allows kids to reach beyond their circumscribed social groups for acceptance and support – the average coming-out age has dropped from post-college age in the 1990s to around 16 today, which means that more and more kids are coming out while they're still economically reliant on their families.

The resulting flood of kids who end up on the street, kicked out by parents whose religious beliefs often make them feel compelled to cast out their own offspring (one study estimates that up to 40 percent of LGBT homeless youth leave home due to family rejection), has been called a "hidden epidemic." Tragically, every step forward for the gay-rights movement creates a false hope of acceptance for certain youth, and therefore a swelling of the homeless-youth population."The summer that marriage equality passed in New York, we saw the number of homeless kids looking for shelter go up 40 percent," says Carl Siciliano, founder of the Ali Forney Center, the nation's largest organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youth.

"And it would always be a gay kid." In 2002, he founded the Ali Forney Center, naming it after a homeless 22-year-old who'd been shot in the head on the street in Harlem, not far from where the organization's drop-in center currently resides.

Siciliano had been close with Forney and felt that had he had a safe place to go, he might be alive today.