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December 2013Vol. 14, No. 9Exploring, Reducing LGBT Youth Homelessness

Although the exact number of homeless youth in the United States is difficult to measure, it is estimated that between 2.4 million and 3.7 million children and youth are without homes. The subpopulation that is consistently overrepresented among homeless youth are those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (LGBT). In Seeking Shelter: The Experiences and Unmet Needs of LGBT Homeless Youth, the Center for American Progress provides information, data, and stories about homeless LGBT youth; characteristics of this population; causes of their homelessness; and  the services that are available to help them. The report also highlights what the Federal Government can do to help eliminate homelessness among LGBT youth.

According to the report, multiple studies confirm that family rejection based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity is a significant driver of LGBT youth homelessness. The report also points to evidence suggesting that many of these youth come into contact with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Additionally, both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems often are ill equipped to appropriately meet the needs of this youth population.

The report makes the following recommendations:

  • Reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act with LGBT-specific provisions
  • Establish schools as a refuge for youth by eliminating bullying and harassment
  • Provide adequate funding to programs serving homeless youth to ensure continued provision of services
  • Strengthen home-based interventions to build strong and supportive families
  • Develop juvenile justice reform to protect LGBT youth from discriminatory treatment in the juvenile justice system

Seeking Shelter: The Experiences and Unmet Needs of LGBT Homeless Youth, by Andrew Cray, Katie Miller, and Laura Durso, is available on the website for the Center for American Progress: (1 MB)