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Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth: An Epidemic of Homelessness Executive Summary
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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that the number of homeless and runaway youth ranges from 575,000 to 1.6 million per year. Our analysis of the available research suggests that between 20 percent and 40 percent of all homeless youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). Given that between 3 percent and 5 percent of the U.S. population identifies as lesbian, gay or bisexual, it is clear that LGBT youth experience homelessness at a disproportionate rate. It is this reality that 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, we answer some basic questions, including why so many LGBT youth are becoming and remaining homeless. We report on the harassment and violence that many of these youth experience in the shelter system and we summarize research on critical problems affecting them, including mental health issues, substance abuse and risky sexual behavior. We also analyze the federal government’s response to youth homelessness, including the specific impact on LGBT homeless youth of increased federal funding for faith-based service providers.

We also partnered with five social service agencies who have written sections that detail model programs they have developed to improve service delivery to LGBT homeless youth. In order to put a face to all of this research and data, we also include profiles of LGBT homeless youth, many of which were collected through focus groups we conducted at service providers around the country. Finally, in consultation with a number of youth advocacy organizations, we conclude with a series of state-, federal- and practitioner- level policy recommendations that can help to curb this epidemic. (Author)
Washington, D.C.
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A program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services