lgbtq teens

What it's like to a be a lesbian, gay,bisexual,transgender, or queer teen in America

LGTBQ homelessness

on June 3, 2013

LGBT Youth and homelessness

Despite progress being made for equal rights when it comes to LGBT marriage, there are still many concerns revolving around LGBT teen youth. One issue in particular that is alarming is teen homelessness. Homelessness is still an issue of great importance in America and affects millions of people every day; however, statistics show that LGBT youth makeup quite a large percentage of the population.

According to the juvenilejusticeblog.edu, 1.7 million adolescents a year experience homelessness. Of that 1.7million 20-40% of the population identify themselves as LGBT. However, this percentage is quite large compared to around 10% of the general population identifying themselves as LGBT, with this number growing.

According to the taskforce.org, when it comes to Chicago, there are between 12,000-15,000 homeless youth in Chicago. An estimated 1500-3,000 out those 1500 are identified as LGBT teens. However according to Lakeview Action a non-profit organization, there are only 212 state shelter beds issued to homeless youth. A survey issued among Kenwood students shows that among the 60 surveyed 16 of them knew a teen that has been homeless or is currently homeless.

There are many reasons as to why teens end up being homeless in the first place. For LGBT teens some of these include risk of emotional abuse, parental substance abuse, and family will not tolerate their presence for a variety of reasons. However, one of the main reasons stated by teens is conflict at home or teens come out their parents who refuse to accept their sexual orientation and throw them out on the street. Lourdes Lugo, project director of the VIDA/SIDA project that has recently opened its doors specifically towards LGBTQ teens states that. “The main reason why LGBTQ youth are homeless is family rejection. They come out to a family that does not accept their sexual orientation.We have had 200 applicants already and I would dare to say at least 75% of our applicants were thrown because they predominantly come from religious families…it is interesting that more people in the U.S. are becoming right winged and do not accept people who are different.

There is a great shortage of adequate housing for LGBT youth. Many shelters provide short term care, but fail to provide long-term care for teens. There is federal funding for organizations, but many times this proves not to be enough to reach every homeless teen across the country. Lugo later on said “We have a government that says they promote homosexuality,but do not actually promote it and do not fund enough programs that support them”.Though there are many local and national organizations to fund resources for the homeless, there are still insufficient funds that are desperately needed.

Another dilemma that LGBT homeless teens faced is being turned away after being considered outcast by family. Some homeless shelters discriminate against homeless LGBT teens. This means that they refuse to service teens if they identify as LGBT. Despite federal regulations trying to insure equal treatment, that is not always the case.This leads to more teens being out and the street and leads to many LGBT teens being subject to sexual harassment. They may be asked to exchange sex for shelter, food, and clothing. According to the Center for American progress, 58% of homeless youth have been sexually harassed.

Many LGBT teens end up turning to drugs for comfort. This is one of the main reasons not only do homeless youth stay homeless, but homeless people in general end up staying homeless. According to the juvenile justice blog, 81% of homeless teens use tobacco or alcohol, 75% use marijuana, and 26% use crack cocaine.

An anonymous source said “ It’s amazing how there are supposed to be such great progress in equal rights for homosexuals,but then in reality there is little funding for programs, very few people in Congress actively supporting it, and more people saying that they disapporove of homosexuality”.

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