I’ve recently read several articles (The Body, Associated Press) that talked about the struggles faced by gay, lesbian, bi, and transgendered youth who become homeless. The stories of homeless LGBT youth are particularly heartbreaking. Many find themselves kicked out of home after disclosing their sexual identity to their family. They’re rejected by the those who they hoped wold love them unconditionally.
In one study, 26 percent of gay teens who came out to their parents/guardians were told they must leave home. LGBT youth, like many youth who choose to leave home, also leave home due to physical, sexual and emotional abuse. An estimated one third of LGBT youth are physically abused by a family member after their sexual orientation or gender identity is discovered. Homeless LGBT youth are more likely to: use drugs, participate in sex work, and attempt suicide. Lesbian and gay youths account for up to 30% of all completed suicides among youths. Where 30% of homeless teens have attempted suicide, 62% of homeless LGBT have attempted. This is far too high.
Common reports state that twenty-to-forty percent of runaway and homeless youth identify as gay, lesbian, or transgender. This is compared to five-to-ten percent of the general teen population, and is likely due to the high numbers of teens kicked out of home because of their sexual identity, forced to leave home because of abuse, or facing intolerable bullying from peers and community members.
“Homeless LGBTQ youth are at a severely high risk of engaging in self-destructive behaviors as a means to survive. The practice of “survival sex” is common among them as a means of living to see the next day. The risk of contracting HIV is high among this group because of the risky behaviors. Condom negotiation often cannot even be factored in since a young person may be forced to choose between engaging in a sexual activity without a condom or spending the night outside. This is no choice at all.” (The Body) Factor in a lack of resources and the strong instinct to survive and it’s a formula for utter hopelessness and disaster.
If you are a parent of an LGBTQ teen, please check out the Family Acceptance Project. The Family Acceptance Project is really important – it seeks to educate parents about LGBT issues, but more importantly, promotes acceptance and family unity, regardless of how the parent personally believes about sexuality and gender identity, and empathy and understanding from the teen. Pretty cool!
We need to provide support, safe housing, food and other necessities to ALL of our youth to ensure they do not have to turn to unsafe survival mechanisms, dangerous situations, or hopelessness and suicide.
We cannot allow this to happen. Our children deserve so much better than this. They deserve a chance at a future.