Center for American Progress

Idea of the Day: 40 Percent of Homeless or At-Risk Youth Are Gay or Transgender
Report

Idea of the Day: 40 Percent of Homeless or At-Risk Youth Are Gay or Transgender

A recent survey shows that gay and transgender youth constitute a significant and disproportionate segment of the homeless youth population.

The Palette Fund, the Forty to None Project (a project of the True Colors Fund), and the Williams Institute released yesterday the results of the LGBT Homeless Youth Provider Survey. Researchers fielded the survey in late 2011 and early 2012 to better understand the capacity of organizations serving homeless young people to provide services to gay and transgender youth. The survey also analyzed the prevalence of gay and transgender youth within the larger youth homeless population. The final report aggregates the survey responses of 354 agencies in the United States that serve youth who are, or are at risk of becoming, homeless.

The survey found that approximately 40 percent of homeless or at-risk youth are gay or transgender, which aligns with previously aggregated local, state, and regional estimates. This study should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that gay and transgender youth do, in fact, constitute a significant and disproportionate segment of the homeless youth population. More importantly, this study shows why service providers, advocates, and policymakers who work to end overall youth homelessness should take into account the unique needs of gay and transgender youth.

In particular, the survey found that of all youth clients served, 30 percent identify as gay or lesbian and 9 percent as bisexual. Providers also reported that 1 percent identify as “other gender,” while another 1 percent of transgender youth identify as either male or female. These figures are alarming since gay and transgender youth only make up approximately 5 percent to 7 percent of the total youth population in the United States.

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