One of the most vulnerable demographics today are LGBT youth. Those who identify with this group or are questioning their sexuality find themselves at a greater risk for exploitation, homelessness, abuse, and shame.
Up to 4 out of every 10 kids/teens that are homeless fit into the LGBT youth demographic.
LGBT Youth Facts
The exact amount of kids who are homeless at any given time is difficult to calculate because many teens run away from home every day. Over 90% of them come back after 24 hours, but in effect that means they are homeless for at least one night. One of the biggest contributors to this issue is that fact that kids are identifying themselves as being LGBT publicly a lot earlier in life than before.
- The average age that a child comes out to their family as being LGBT is around the age of 12-13. In the past, it used to be 18-20.
- The general youth population that identifies as being LGBT is 10%.
- LGBT youth are twice as likely to experience some form of sexual abuse by a family member before the age of 12.
Is it ok to be gay? That’s a question that many fundamentalist families are facing today and it is an uncomfortable question for many of them. For generations, sanctioned religions have taught that it is shameful, a sin, to even consider homosexual thoughts. To be LGBT meant to bring shame to themselves, their families, and their communities. Although attitudes are changing, it takes time to fix a system that could have been broken for centuries. Improvements are being made, but the simple reality is that more LGBT youth are being abused simply because of their sexual orientation. That causes homelessness and homelessness creates higher risks for additional harm.
Just How Problematic is This Issue?
- LGBT youth who are homeless commit suicide twice more often that homeless youth who are identify themselves as heterosexual.
- LGBT youth are also more than 7 times more likely to experience some form of sexual violence than their heterosexual counterparts.
- Almost 60% of LGBT youth who are homeless have been sexually victimized or exploited at least once in their lives.
- There are up to 2.8 million youth at any given time who are homeless in the United States alone.
- Up to 400k LGBT youth face the issue of homelessness every year.
- The average age that a LGBT youth becomes homeless in the State of New York is 14.
- 62% of LGBT youth experience some form of discrimination from their families, which is double the amount of other youth demographics.
These statistics show just how problematic the issue happens to be for society. No matter which side of the LGBT issues you fall on, there is no good reason to harm a child. Yet 2 out of every 3 families are harming their children simply because they are identifying with an “alternative” sexual orientation that is bothersome. How can this get fixed? The only real way is through education, but even then there are fundamentalist families that even reject clinical scientific research. That means identifying these children who are at-risk because of identifying with the LGBT demographic becomes critically important for every community.
Why Is There Such a Problem Today?
- Over 40% of LGBT youth who are homeless have indicated that they have abused alcohol at least once within the last 30 days.
- 86% of LGBT students report that they have been verbally harassed at school because of their sexual orientation at some point during the school year.
- LGBT youth are more than 3 times more likely to have used illicit drugs and had unprotected sex, including survival sex, than their counterparts.
- 44% of LGBT students report that they have been physically harassed at school because of their sexual orientation as well.
- LGBT youth are twice as likely to either drop out of high school or choose not to pursue some form of higher education.
- 78% of LGBT youth who were placed with a foster family were either removed from a foster home or chose to run away from one because of discrimination or conflicts because of their sexual identification in New York.
- Only $195 million is dedicated to providing assistance to homeless youth in the United States year-by-year.
Only 1% of the federal budget that is given out to families for public housing, affordable housing programs, or rental assistance is allocated toward helping homeless youth. There were over 760k at-risk youth identified by federal programs that were authorized by this 1% of funding, yet only 44,000 youth were actually give a bed or given some sort of services to help them transition off of the streets. It costs less than $6,000 to move a LGBT youth off of the streets and into programs that prevent them from entering the juvenile justice system, yet most communities are willing to pay $50k per year on criminal justice services.
Some Final Facts to Consider
- 31% of LGBT youth have reported incidents of harassment or violence to school officials and have received no response from their complaint.
- 60% of LGBT youth who have been attacked at school in a violent way chose not to report the incident because they felt like no one would care.
- Children today are identifying with the LGBT youth demographic sometimes as early as 5 years old.
- 88% of social workers who work to place children into out-of-home placements state that LGBT youth are not safe in a group home environment.
Things might be getting better on an overall perspective, but that doesn’t change the problems that are occurring right now. LGBT youth have a lot of struggles that they face every day simply because of how they identify themselves. In the United States, where the right to pursue happiness is encouraged daily, it is amazing how often this fact is forgotten in the attitude that people have toward the LGBT youth population.