Conditional Families and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Youth Homelessness: Gender, Sexuality, Family Instability, and Rejection


Existing research on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth homelessness identifies family rejection as a main pathway into homelessness for the youth. This finding, however, can depict people of color or poor people as more prejudiced than White, middle‐class families. In this 18‐month ethnographic study, the author complicates this rejection paradigm through documenting the narratives of 40 LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. The author examines how poverty and family instability shaped the conditions that the youth perceived as their being rejected because of their gender and sexuality. This rejection generated strained familial ties within families wherein the ties were already fragile. Likewise, the author shows how being gender expansive marked many youth's experiences of familial abuse and strain. This study proposes the concept of conditional families to capture the social processes of how poverty and family instability shape experiences of gender, sexuality, and rejection for some LGBTQ youth.

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Journal of Marriage and Family