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On the Streets

On the Streets

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There are approximately 1.6 million to 2.8 million homeless young people in the United States, and estimates suggest that disproportionate numbers of those youth are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
There are approximately 1.6 million to 2.8 million homeless young people in the United States, and estimates suggest that disproportionate numbers of those youth are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

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Categories:Types, Research, Law
Published by: Center for American Progress on Apr 11, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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On the Streets
The Federal Response to Gay and Transgender Homeless Youth
Nico Sira Quintana, Josh Rosenthal, and Je Krehely June 2010
The dire consequences o stigma and discrimination or gay* andtransgender homeless youth
Homelessness disrupts a young person’s normal development, otenleading to issues in mental and physical health, educational attainment,and behavior. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth who arehomeless must ace these challenges on top o social stigma, discrimi-nation, and requently rejection by their amilies.
The ailure o criticalamily and social saety nets to support these youth has catastrophicconsequences on their economic stability, educational attainment, physi-cal and mental health, economic uture, and lie expectancy.
Family rejection causing more suicide attempts among gay and trans-gender youth
Family rejection o gay and transgender youth oten leads to attemptedsuicide. According to a 2009 study, gay youth who reported higher levelso amily rejection in adolescence were 8.4 times more likely to haveattempted suicide than their gay peers who did not experience amilyrejection. They were also 5.9 times as likely to have experienced depres-sion, 3.4 times as likely to have used illicit drugs, and 3.4 times as likely tohave had unprotected sex.
Suicide becomes more o a danger when a gay and/or transgender youthbecomes homeless. Sixty-two percent o gay and transgender home-less youth attempt suicide compared to 29 percent o their heterosexualhomeless peers.
Lower educational attainment or gay and transgender homeless youth
Once gay and transgender youth become homeless, barriers to ree andappropriate education arise. Not only do gay and transgender homelessyouth have to deal with the harassment and discrimination associatedwith being gay and/or transgender, but they are presented with new ob-stacles to overcome due to being homeless.
Despite ederal laws in placeprotecting homeless youth’s right to public education, residency require-ments, guardianship requirements, lack o transportation, and access tohealth and other records can still prevent homeless youth rom receivinga ree public education.
Moreover, homelessness hampers academicachievement due to requent school transers, lack o quiet, sae places tostudy, and hunger.
Due to these and other actors, both gay and transgender homelessyouth and homeless youth on the whole are reported to have highdropout rates,
with one 2008 New York study o homeless youth ndingthat hal o their respondents were high school dropouts.
Additionally,The Ruth Ellis Center, an organization that exclusively serves gay andtransgender homeless youth in Detroit, reported in 2006 that more than60 percent o their high school age youth population had dropped out o school due to bullying or discrimination.
These educational challenges can have ramications throughout ayouth’s lie. It is impossible to know how much potential is lost whena homeless youth struggles and drops out o high school. A strategicinvestment in these youth could yield savings when they are productivemembers o the uture workorce.
Physical and sexual assault sufered by gay and transgender home-less youth
Without the protection o a amily, homeless youth are at risk o physi-cal abuse and sexual exploitation. Thirty-three percent o heterosexualhomeless youth in Midwestern cities reported experiencing sexualvictimization,
and another study ound that 26 percent o heterosexualyouth were asked by someone on the street to exchange sex or money,ood, drugs, shelter, or clothes.
Gay and transgender homeless youth are more requently targeted or thiskind o greater physical abuse and sexual exploitation. A ull 58 percent o gay homeless youth in those Midwestern cities had been sexually victim-ized.
And 44 percent o homeless gay youth reported being approachedto engage in sex in order to meet their basic needs.
Mental health risks or gay and transgender homeless youth
The instability o homelessness causes physical and emotional stress orhomeless youth. When combined with the stigma o a gay and/or trans-gender identity, this stress can cause youth to experience mental illness. A2004 study o homeless youth ound that gay homeless youth were morelikely to suer rom major depression than heterosexual homeless youth,and lesbian homeless youth were more likely to have post-traumatic-stresssyndrome than heterosexual homeless young women.
 Depression and low sel-respect can also lead youth to engage in riskybehaviors, such as drug use or unsae sex. A 2006 study ound that 42percent o gay homeless youth abuse alcohol compared to 27 percento heterosexual youth.
The study also ound that injection-drug use issignicantly more common or gay homeless youth than heterosexualhomeless youth.
Homeless gay and transgender youth also reporthigher rates o unprotected sex than heterosexual homeless youth,
aswell as higher rates o HIV inection than heterosexual youth.
Fast facts
* In this report the term gay is used as an umbrella term or all youth who identiy as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or queer.
On the Streets
The Federal Response to Gay and TransgenderHomeless Youth
Nico Sira Quintana, Josh Rosenthal, and Je Krehely June 2010

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