Missed Opportunities: LGBTQ Youth Homelessness in America

Missed Opportunities: LGBTQ Youth Homelessness in America highlights research related to the specific experiences of young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) and face homelessness. We learned that, compared to heterosexual and nontransgender youth, LGBTQ youth are disproportionately represented among the nearly 4.2 million youth and young adults in America who experienced some form of homelessness during a 12-month period. They also face a higher risk of early death and other adversities. On the positive side, this research points to actionable opportunities to better meet the needs of LGBTQ young people in our collective efforts to end youth homelessness.

Key Findings - Overview

LGBTQ youth in America are highly diverse and experience homelessness* differently. Nevertheless, several key findings about their experiences point the way toward policies, systems, and services that LGBTQ youth need:

• LGBTQ youth had over twice the rate of early death among youth experiencing homelessness.

• LGBTQ youth are at more than double the risk of homelessness compared to non-LGBTQ peers.

• Youth who identified as both LGBTQ and black or multiracial had some of the highest rates of homelessness.

• Among youth experiencing homelessness, LGBTQ young people reported higher rates of trauma and adversity.

• Transgender youth often face unique and more severe types of discrimination and trauma.

The research also showed that most LGBTQ youth became homeless not in the immediate aftermath of “coming out” but in large part as the result of family instability and frayed relationships over time. Lastly, young people's sense of whether service agencies were safe and affirming spaces for LGBTQ youth often informed their decisions about whether to engage with them. These findings signal opportunities for preventing homelessness and underscore the importance of services that help young people re-establish positive and reliable connections in their lives. 

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