Giving Compass’ Take:
• This research brief from Voices of Youth Count (VoYC) shares the experiences of young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, and are disproportionally represented among the youth homeless population.
• In addition to highlighting the stark realities for LGBTQ homeless youth, VoYC identifies some solutions, including better training for health professionals who serve transgender youth and equitably locating LGBTQ-sensitive outreach programs in predominantly multiracial communities.
This Research-to-Impact brief is the second in a series that draws on multiple research components from Voices of Youth Count. Adolescence and young adulthood represent a critical developmental window. Every day that young people like Isabel experience the stress of housing instability represents missed opportunities to support their healthy development and transitions to productive adulthood. Voices of Youth Count elevates the voices of young people like Isabel across our nation who lack the necessary support and resources to achieve independence and make their unique contributions to our society. Throughout this brief, we highlight key findings and new evidence on LGBTQ youth homelessness.
The development of one’s sexual orientation and gender identity are distinct developmental phases for young people. Each phase is tied to a unique set of experiences and, sometimes, stigmas. The process of “coming out” and navigating life as a person who identifies as gay or bisexual can be a very different experience than coming out and navigating life as a person who identifies as transgender. As Isabel’s story underscores, youth who identify as transgender are often especially marginalized. Where possible, this report speaks specifically to findings for youth who identify as transgender, but, in many cases, the measures combine gender identity and sexual orientation or the sample sizes for transgender youth were too small to separate.
Finally, many LGBTQ youth are also members of racial or cultural communities that experience hardships for different reasons. This interconnectedness — also called intersectionality — plays an important role in solving the challenge of youth homelessness.
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
By appreciating the overlapping and interdependent ways that discrimination and disadvantage occur, we are in a better position to identify and address the complex, cumulative ways that race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other characteristics shape youth experiences in America.