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Supporting Gay and Transgender Youth Most in Need

Supporting Gay and Transgender Youth Most in Need

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Melissa Dunn and Jeff Krehely give an overview of gay and transgender homelessness and how to address the problem in light of a White House conference on the topic today.
Melissa Dunn and Jeff Krehely give an overview of gay and transgender homelessness and how to address the problem in light of a White House conference on the topic today.

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Published by: Center for American Progress on Mar 09, 2012
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12/22/2013

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1Center for American Progress | Supporting Gay and Transgender Youth Most in Need
Supporting Gay and TransgenderYouth Most in Need
White House Conference Turns Spotlighton Housing and Homelessness Issues ImpactingGay and Transgender Population
Melissa Dunn and Jeff Krehely March 2012
Te Whie House oday is hosing he LGB Conerence on Housing & Homelessnessin Deroi, Michigan. Te even is held in parnership wih heRuh Ellis Cenerand ishe second in a series o conerences being held across he counry o address he uniqueneeds o gay and ransgender Americans.
1
Te keynoe speaker a oday’s even is Secreary Shaun Donovan o he U.S.Deparmen o Housing and Urban Developmen. In January, HUD Secreary Donovanspoke a heNaional Gay and Lesbian ask Force’s Creaing Change conerence inBalimore, where he announced his deparmen’s new equal access rule, which will helpreduce housing discriminaion on he basis o sexual orienaion and gender ideniy.oday’s conerence signals he Obama adminisraion’s ongoing commimen o advanc-ing equaliy or gay and ransgender people.Te adminisraion’s parnership wih he Ruh Ellis Cener helps draw much-neededatenion o he huge and pervasive problem o gay and ransgender youh homeless-ness in America. According o repors, beween5 percen and 7 perceno all American youh are gay or ransgender. Tese youh, however, comprise7 percen o 40 perceno all homeless youh in he Unied Saes. Tis dispariy is being driven a leas in par by he ac ha gay and ransgender youh are coming ou a youngerages. As our laws and culure become more inclusive and acceping o gay and ransgenderpeople, many more now come ou in heirearly o mid-eens , when hey are much moredependen on heir amilies and communiies or suppor. Unorunaely, heir amiliesand communiies migh no be able o accep hese youh and migh be unable o givehem he suppor and nurure hey need.
 1 In this issue brief the term “gay” is used as an umbrella term for people who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.
 
2Center for American Progress | Supporting Gay and Transgender Youth Most in Need
Tis issue brie explains why gay and ransgender youh oo oen end up on he srees, wha happens o hese youh once hey are on he srees or in homeless shelers, andhe seps ha he ederal governmen can ake o help reduce he incidence and severio his problem.
Why they’re on the streets
 As gay and ransgender youh come ou a younger ages, hey ace a lack o eecivesocial saey nes boh in he home and a school. A home gay and ransgender youhoen ace high levels o amily rejecion. Such youh aresignifcanly more likely oengage in high-risk behaviors such as using illici drugs, having unproeced sex, andatemping suicide. Tey are also more likely o experience depression han heir heero-sexual and nonransgender peers.Many gay and ransgender youh leave home o escapeamily rejecion o heir sexual orienaion or gender ideniy or even he violence andabuse ha someimes sems rom his rejecion. Youh who have i rough a home oen canno rely on heir school as an escape romamily rejecion. A school84 perceno gay and ransgender sudens repor being verbally harassed,40 percenrepor being physically harassed, and19 percenrepor  being physically assauled. Tree in fve gay sudens el unsae in school because o heir sexual orienaion, and nearly wo in fveransgender sudens el unsae becauseo heir gender ideniy.Even worse, gay and ransgender sudens repor asonishingly low levels o confdencein heir schools. Nearly wo-hirdso sudens who are harassed or assauled did norepor he inciden o heir schools’ sa because hey did no hink he siuaion wouldimprove, or hey eared i migh even ge worse. In ac,one-hirdo bullied gay andransgender sudens ha repored bullying o school adminisraors said he aculy did nohing o address he issue. Tey are righ—eachers across he board repor hahey do no eel heir gay and lesbian sudens are sae, bu ha bullying based on sexualorienaion and gender ideniy is so pervasive hey are powerless o sop i.
Once they’re on the streets
Many gay and ransgender youh urn o he srees as an escape rom unacceping orabusive amilies or school climaes. Bu his is mos oen a ragic misake because heharsh condiions o school and home are oen beter han wha youh experience on hesrees. Gay and ransgender homeless youh experience7.4 moreacs o sexual violenceon he srees han heir heerosexual and nonransgender homeless counerpars. Tey acewicehe rae o sexual vicimizaion and aremore likely o be asked o exchange sex or money, ood, or sheler.
 
3Center for American Progress | Supporting Gay and Transgender Youth Most in Need
 Wih all o hese condiions compounded, sudies fnd homeless lesbian youh o bemore a risk or pos-raumaic sress syndrome, behavioral disorders, and subsanceabuse han heir homeless heerosexual emale counerpars. Likewise, he sress andsubjecion o being homeless makes gay youhmore likely o have depressive episodeshan heir heerosexual homeless counerpars.ransgender youh also ace increased sexually relaed healh risks on he srees. According o a repor by heNaional Gay and Lesbian ask Force ,nearly hal o all ransgender homeless youh have engaged in survival sex, andmany repor engaging inunsae behaviors ha placed hem a risk o becoming HIV posiive.
Once they’re in shelters
Te condiions homeless gay and ransgender youh ace when hey ener homelessshelers can be jus as bleak and violen as heir experiences on he srees. Gay and rans-gender youh are more likely han heir heerosexual and nonransgender counerparso be sexually and physically vicimized in shelers. Gay youh are10 imesmore likely o be sexually abused or experience sa sexual misconduc han heir heerosexual couner-pars. ransgender youh are aincreasedrisk o physical abuse when orced o use show-ers o heir birh gender. Anda majoriy o proessional sa a shelers and group homesrepor eeling ha gay and ransgender youh are no sae in hese setings. Many homelessgay and ransgender youh even fnd hemselves in shelers ha ry o conver hem or use“reparaive herapies” o change heir sexual orienaion or gender ideniy.ransgender youh aceaddiional specifc ypeso discriminaion when hey enerhomeless shelers. Tey are oen orced o use bahrooms and sleeping quarers o heir birh gender, raher han he one hey presenly ideniy wih or presen hemselvesas. Tese policies pu already-vulnerable ransgender youh ino poenially dangeroussiuaions, where hey can mee a violen response or heir gender ideniy or gendernonconorming behaviors. Tis means ha in some areas, he srees—no ederally unded shelers—are oen he saes opion or ransgender homeless youh.
What can and is being done
In order o reduce he disproporionae levels o homelessness among gay and ransgen-der youh (and o help end youh homelessness more generally), concered governmenacion is needed. As o 2009 he ederal governmen spends more han $4.2 billiononhousing assisance each year, or programs such as ederally backed morgages and moreaccessible low-income amily housing. O his, less han 5 percen ($195 million) isspecifcally dedicaed o combaing youh homelessness. Consequenly, o he766,800 conacs wih homeless youh ha ederally unded programs were successully able omake in 2008, sheler beds were only available or44,483o hem.

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