Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth: An Epidemic of Homelessness

Estimates of homeless youth who identify as GLBTQ range from 20-40%, compared to 3-5% of the total U.S. population. Ray and contributing authors have compiled a comprehensive report on the state of homeless GLBTQ youth for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The report covers the literature on topics including the state of youth homelessness today, federal response to youth homelessness, and the experiences of homeless youth. Several exemplary programs that serve homeless GLBTQ youth are highlighted.

Through a comprehensive review of the available academic research and professional literature, we answer some basic questions, including why so many LGBT youth are becoming and remaining homeless. We report on the harassment and violence that many of these youth experience in the shelter system and we summarize research on critical problems affecting them, including mental health issues, substance abuse and risky sexual behavior. We also analyze the federal government’s response to youth homelessness, including the specific impact on LGBT homeless youth of increased federal funding for faith-based service providers.

We also partnered with five social service agencies who have written sections that detail model programs they have developed to improve service delivery to LGBT homeless youth. In order to put a face to all of this research and data, we also include profiles of LGBT homeless youth, many of which were collected through focus groups we conducted at service providers around the country. Finally, in consultation with a number of youth advocacy organizations, we conclude with a series of state-, federal- and practitioner-level policy recommendations that can help to curb this epidemic. (Author)

Publication Date: 
Washington, DC, United States