A Disproportionate Number of Homeless LGBT Youth
Between 3 and 10 percent of the general population identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. However, a much larger percentage of the homeless youth population identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender – between 20 and 40 percent, as stated in the Task Force Report. The report states that, in Chicago alone, it is estimated that there are between 12,000 and 15,000 homeless youth. Between 1,448 and 3,000 of these youth are LGBT.
LGBT youth are more likely to become homeless because of family discrimination.About 62 percent of homeless LGBT youth were discriminated against by their families, versus only 30 percent of heterosexual homeless youth (Center for American Progress). About half of LGBT youth who came out to their parents received a negative reaction and about 26 percent were kicked out of their family’s homes, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Other problems for homeless LGBT youth include a high risk of mental health problems, a greater likelihood of suicide and increased risks of unsafe sex, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness. There is also a lack of resources for homeless youth. In 2000, 42 percent of homeless youth who sought help through state-funded programs were unable to receive help because of the lack of resources, according to estimates by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. The National Alliance to End Homelessness estimates that less than one-half of one percent of the federal budget for rental assistance, public housing and affordable housing programs went toward helping homeless youth.
Programs such as Forty to None are trying to change these statistics. The Forty to None Project was created in January 2011 by the True Colors Fund in an effort to reduce the percentage of homeless LGBT youth from 40 percent to none. The program hopes to achieve this goal by raising public awareness and giving a voice to the youth who this problem affects most directly. The website has a resources center that provides general information and can also put youth into contact with a local service provider.
*This post was written by IMPACT journalism intern Rachel Graf.
Quintana, N., Rosenthal, J., Krehely, J. (2010). On the Streets: The Federal Response to Gay and Transgender Homeless Youth
Ray, N. (2006). Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth: An epidemic of homelessness. New York: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute and the National Coalition for the Homeless.
Remafedi, G. (1987). Male homosexuality: The adolescent perspective. Pediatrics, (79).