Quick Tips: Working with LGBTQI2-S Youth who are Homeless

Youth who are homeless and identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, or Two-Spirited ( LGBTQI2-S ) utilize many types of services. It is important that all agencies take steps to ensure that services are accessible, culturally competent, and welcoming.

Things you can do:
  1. Create a safe space by posting LGBTQI2-S symbols, such as a rainbow flag or safe zone poster, in your office or program.
  2. Pay attention to heterosexist and homophobic language. Instead of asking youth if they have a boyfriend or girlfriend, ask if they are seeing anyone. Never use the word “gay” as an adjective, as in “that’s so gay.”
  3. Explore your misconceptions by reading about LGBTQI2-S issues, watching films, or attending trainings.

Things your organization can do:

  1. Examine existing policies for heterosexist language and amend your nondiscrimination and confidentiality policies to include sexual minorities.
  2. Offer staff training about how to address the needs of LGBTQI2-S youth.
  3. Develop collaborations with organizations that target LGBTQI2-S youth and compile a resource list of LGBTQI2-S -friendly services in your area.

Interested in learning more?

GLASS Youth and Family Services. (2007). LGBTQ Youth Facts. Available at http://glassla.org/wp/?page_id=91

National Alliance to End Homelessness. (2007). Fact Checker: Youth Homelessness. National Alliance to End Homelessness: Washington, DC. Available at: http://www.endhomelessness.org/content/article/detail/1659

National Coalition for the Homeless. (2007). Homeless Youth NCH fact sheet #13. National Coalition for the Homeless: Washington, DC. Available at: http://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/facts/youth.pdf

Girl’s Best Friend Foundation & Advocates for Youth. (2005). Creating a Safe Space for LGBTQ Youth: A Toolkit. Girls Best Friend Foundation and Advocates for Youth: Chicago, IL & Washington, DC. Available at: http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/PUBLICATIONS/safespace/safespace.pdf

Mottet, Lisa. Ohle, John M. (2003). Transitioning our shelters: A guide to making homeless shelters safe for transgender people. National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute, National Coalition for the Homeless: Washington, DC. Available at: http://www.thetaskforce.org/reports_and_research/trans_homeless

Ammerman, S.D., Knsigen, J., Kirzner, R., Meininger, E.T., Tornabene, M., Warf, C.W., Zeger, S., Post, P. (2004). Homeless young adults ages 18-24: Examining Service Delivery Adaptations. National Health Care for the Homeless Council, Inc.: Nashville, TN. Available at: http://www.nhchc.org/Publications/younghomelessadult1.pdf

California Safe Schools Coalition. (2004). A safe place to learn: Consequences of harassment based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender non-conformity and steps for making schools safer. San Francisco: Author. Available at: http://www.casafeschools.org/20040112.html

Woronoff, Rob. Estrada, Rudy. Sommer, Susan. (2006). Out of the Margins: A Report on Regional Listening Forums Highlighting the Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning youth in Care. Child Welfare League of America: Washington, DC. Available at: http://www.cwla.org/programs/culture/outofthemargins.pdf

Publication Date: 
Rockville, MD, USA