Category: LGBTQ

During Pride Month, strive to better support LGBTQ homeless youth

While cities and LGBTQ communities across the country celebrate Pride Month, it’s a perfect moment to reflect on the many underserved youth that still require support. Here at the Alliance, it is our belief that a coordinated community response is the only way to end homelessness for LGBTQ youth. Most importantly, perhaps, we believe that ending LGBTQ youth homelessness is an achievable goal, and that it is everyone’s responsibility.

How to make shelter safe for transgender individuals

The shelter system as a whole is “utterly failing to provide safety or relief for transgender and gender non-conforming people facing a housing crisis,” according to a 2011 report by the National Center for Transgender Equality and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Use these HUD tools to make shelter safer to transgender individuals.

How Can We Prevent the Sexual Exploitation of LGBT Youth?

Think about this: while approximately 5 to 7 percent of the general youth population identifies as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender (LGBT), 9 to 45 percent of the homeless youth population does. In other words, LGBT youth are significantly more likely to be homeless than non-LGBT youth.

In addition to being over-represented among the homeless youth population, LGBT youth may also be more likely to be involved with the justice system due to arrests related to survival crimes (such as theft or sexual acts). When LGBT youth are in shelters, group homes, or foster homes, they often experience harassment or violence. As a result, they may resort to “survival sex” in order to avoid these living arrangements. (This is a term for sexual acts that are exchanged for money or goods required to meet life’s basic needs.)

Could Shelter Policies Increase an LGBT Youth’s Vulnerability to Sexual Exploitation?

Earlier this year, the Urban Institute released a report that examines the experiences of young Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) youth who have engaged in “survival sex” in New York City. Survival sex is a term frequently used to describe the exchange of sexual acts for money or goods that people require to live (e.g. food and shelter)

Of all the findings in this compelling report, “Surviving the Streets of New York,” one in particular should give homeless service providers pause: “Many [youth] … credited the instability and rules associated with emergency housing with driving them back to the street [and sexual exploitation].”

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