Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress released a report on LGBT youth homelessness, exploring who these homeless youths are, how they become homeless, how their needs are being addressed, and what the federal government can do to eliminate homelessness among LGBT youth.
Over the past several years, there has been an increase in robust data collection from cities in all corners of the United States on the experiences of homeless youth, and many of these surveys and studies have observed and described the disparities experienced by LGBT youth in shelters and on the streets. There are also new service providers who have stepped up to serve vulnerable LGBT youth and help make their lives healthier, happier, and more stable.
But LGBT youth continue to be disproportionately represented among homeless youth in our country, and their experiences of homelessness continue to be characterized by violence, discrimination, poor health, and unmet needs. Family rejection, harassment in schools, and the shortcomings of juvenile justice and child welfare continue to drive these elevated rates of homelessness. And all the while, federal funding for essential services to the well-being of these youth has remained stagnant.
“Research and stories from the front lines show the incredible challenges faced by LGBT homeless youth and highlight the barriers to finding them safe and stable homes,” said Laura E. Durso, Director of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress and co-author of today’s report. “Our analysis shows that there is potential for a strong federal response to reduce the disproportionate representation of LGBT youth living on the streets and to empower the providers and programs charged with addressing the crisis of youth homelessness in America.”
The report recommends the following policy priorities that can assist in preventing homelessness among LGBT youth and change their lives for the better:
- Reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act with LGBT-specific provisions.
- Establish standards that protect LGBT youth from bullying and harassment in schools.
- Support initiatives that strengthen families with LGBT children, and that promote acceptance and understanding between parents and children.
- Disassemble the school-to-prison pipeline.
- Initiate efforts to research LGBT youth homelessness and track demographic data on homeless youth that includes sexual orientation and gender identity.
These five policy recommendations would bolster the efforts of service providers around the country, creating a comprehensive framework to address the challenges in building effective homeless-service programs. No policy, program, or study will eliminate LGBT youth homelessness today, in a month, or even in a year. But developing a cohesive federal approach to this pressing issue is a necessary step toward giving all youth safe homes and brighter futures.
Read the report: Seeking Shelter: The Experience and Unmet Needs of LGBT Homeless Youth by Andrew Cray, Katie Miller, and Laura E. Durso
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