Washington, D.C. – Gay and transgender homeless youth make up an estimated 20 percent of all homeless youth in the United States, according to a new report from the Center for American Progress. Tomorrow, the Obama administration will release their strategy to prevent and end homelessness. CAP’s new report, "On the Streets: The Federal Response to Gay and Transgender Homeless Youth" calls for a comprehensive approach to meet the needs of these youth.
Families and parents too often reject gay and transgender young people as they come out at earlier ages. This can lead to a chain reaction of events that sends them cascading through social safety nets that are not equipped to support them. From schools and child welfare systems to juvenile justice facilities and homeless shelters, stigma and institutional discrimination lead gay and transgender youth to a harsher life on the streets than other homeless youth. They are more likely to drop out of school, to attempt suicide, and to experience sexual exploitation.
The federal government can and should do more to respond to this problem. Of the approximately $4.2 billion the government spends annually on homeless assistance programs, less than 5 percent of this funding, $195 million, is allocated for homeless children and youth. Even less goes to serve unaccompanied homeless youth.
In its report, the Center for American Progress calls on the federal government to take several steps to reduce the incidence of gay and transgender youth homelessness and improve the services and treatment these youth receive if they do become homeless. Specifically, the Obama administration should:
- Establish pilot programs that would provide counseling to families with gay and transgender children so youth do not become homeless
- Establish schools as a safe refuge for all children and youth
- Officially recognize the youth that fall between the cracks and protect them from discrimination
- Take concrete steps to expand housing options for gay and transgender homeless youth
- Initiate research in this area as gay and transgender youth homelessness is not being adequately tracked or documented
Read the full report "On the Streets: The Federal Response to Gay and Transgender Homeless Youth"
Read "Gay and Transgender Youth Homelessness by the Numbers"