Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth: An Epidemic of Homelessness
Between 3 percent and 5 percent of the U.S. population identifies as lesbian, gay or bisexual, yet research suggests that between 20 percent and 40 percent of all homeless youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). This reality prompted the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (the Task Force), in collaboration with the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH), to produce this publication. Through a comprehensive review of the available academic research and professional literature, the question as to why so many LGBT youth are becoming and remaining homeless is addressed. This paper also reports on the harassment and violence that many of these youth experience in the shelter system and summarizes research on critical problems affecting them, including mental health issues, substance abuse and risky sexual behavior. The federal government’s response to youth homelessness is analyzed, including the specific impact on LGBT homeless youth of increased federal funding for faith-based service providers. Five social service agencies detail model programs designed to improve service delivery to LGBT homeless youth.