Ashlee Davis, is at Millsaps College, to host a LGBT Rural Summit to educate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities about what the U.S. Department of Agriculture has to offer. She says there's grants and loans available for a range of needs, including daycare centers, homes and farming. Davis says the department has made a commitment to ensure that LGBT people living in rural communities know about their services.
"They are our customers and historically we've seen that LGBT people living in rural America have been silenced and sometimes shut-out and didn't feel comfortable coming out and being who they are, even though they contribute like the person next to them. We've added gender identify and gender expression as a protected basis," said Davis.
Davis invited Mississippi LGBT advocacy groups to participate in panels discussions about issues impacting communities. Dr. June Gipson, is President of My Brother's Keeper. She operates a primary healthcare clinic that also specializes in treating gay people. She says homelessness among youth is a major concern.
"If you're gay you maybe put out. Your parents may not understand. It's still prevalent. It still happens and it can't be ignored, and we have to have some resources to support these youth," said Gipson.
Advocates say there's no transitional housing. Helen Barnes of Jackson told listeners her home is available.
"Yes we have opened our home and we're glad to do it. We're thrilled, thrilled is the wrong word. We're heart broken we have to do, but we happy that we are able to do it," said Barnes.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture invested $411 million in projects in Mississippi last year.