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America’s shame: 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBT kids

Friday, July 13, 2012
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LOS ANGELES – About 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBT, and nearly all homeless youth service providers in the U.S. now serve LGBT youth, according to a comprehensive report on LGBT youth homelessness released Thursday.

Nearly seven in 10 (68 percent) respondents indicated that family rejection was a major factor contributing to LGBT youth homelessness, making it the most cited factor. More than half (54 percent) of respondents indicated that abuse in their family was another important factor contributing to LGBT homelessness.

Statistically, LGBT youth make up no more than 10% of that population segment, yet total 40 percent of homeless youth.

“The findings from this survey demonstrate that many LGBT youth are at high risk of homelessness, often as a result of family rejection and abuse. The analyses offer critical insights into the challenges that these young people face when they seek help during a very difficult time in their lives,” said Laura E. Durso, Williams Institute Public Policy Fellow and study co-author.

The data comes from the LGBT Homeless Youth Provider Survey, a web-based survey conducted from October 2011 through March 2012 as a collaboration by The Palette Fund, True Colors Fund and the Williams Institute.

Among the key findings:

  • 94 percent of respondents from agencies work with LGBT youth
  • 30 percent of agency clients identified as gay or lesbian
  • 9 percent identified as bisexual
  • 1 percent identified as transgender

Additionally, more than 75 percent of responding agencies worked with transgender youth in the past year. Survey findings suggest that 30 percent of clients in housing programs targeting youth are LGBT.

A majority of LGBT youth are receiving services that are available to all young people, with 24 percent of agency youth-oriented programs specifically being designed for LGBT youth.

“The results of this survey act as further confirmation that America’s next generation of gay and transgender youth need us to stand with them so that they can stand on their own.” said Gregory Lewis, executive director of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Fund and its recently launched Forty to None Project, which seeks to empower LGBT homeless youth and raise awareness of the issues they face.

“One of our key findings shows that in order for that to happen we all need to join together and support the hard working and dedicated service providers helping these young people every day, we need to re-double our efforts to support them so they can help all of the youth in need,” he said.

Over the past 10 years, the percentage of homeless youth providers serving LGBT clients has increased from 82 percent to 94 percent.

Responding agencies noted that a lack of sufficient funding was a serious barrier in service provision. Five of the top six barriers to improving services targeting LGBT homelessness relate to a lack of funding from all forms of government, foundations and the public.

Based on data from 381 respondents, representing 354 agencies providing youth with homeless-related services, the report outlines key statistics on what LGBT youth populations are served by these agencies, who is most at risk, and why these populations are most at risk.

Requests to participate in the web-based survey were sent to all providers on the National Runaway Switchboard and CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers resource lists, as well as partner agencies of the True Colors Fund.

Click here to read the report.

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