Today, the National LGBTQ Task Force and the True Colors Fund launched a landmark resource for advocates working to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) youth experiencing homelessness. “At the Intersections,” the new online resource written by 47 contributors, is a comprehensive guide for advocates, policy makers, service providers, and funders working to end homelessness among LGBTQ youth. The first-of-its-kind online publication highlights innovative approaches to supporting youth experiencing homelessness, provides case studies of replicable and successful models, as well as concrete solutions to ending LGBTQ youth homelessness.
“Close to 40 percent of youth that experience homelessness identify as LGBTQ,” said Meghan Maury, National LGBTQ Task Force’s Criminal and Economic Justice Project Director. “There are many factors that contribute to LGBTQ youth homelessness, including family rejection, abuse, aging out of foster care, economic hardship, bullying and school harassment. This guide calls for a nuanced understanding in order to inform the creation of effective systems and programs that will meet the needs of the diverse population of LGBTQ young people experiencing homelessness.”
On average, youth experience homelessness for the first time at age 15 and report being on the streets for nearly two years. Once they are out of their homes, LGBTQ youth suffer higher rates of physical and sexual assault than non-LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. In order to survive, 28 percent of homeless LGBTQ youth report trading sex for basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. Additionally, LGBTQ youth are twice as likely as non-LGBTQ youth to attempt suicide.
“The needs and wants of each young person who is experiencing homelessness differ greatly,” said Christa Price, Program Officer at the True Colors Fund. “In some cities, there may be a relatively large amount of shelter space for young people, but significant gaps in access to physical and mental health care. In other cities there may be a more robust system of care, but a higher likelihood of justice system involvement. ‘At the Intersections’ gives providers a framework on how to respond to the individual needs of young people and the systemic gaps they have identified locally.”
“At the Intersections” also examines the relationship between racism and LGBTQ youth homelessness, the impact of immigration on LGBTQ young people, and the systemic barriers faced by transgender and gender non-conforming youth experiencing homelessness.
“In order to truly eradicate youth homelessness, it’s important that we understand and address the complexities that precipitate it. By focusing on young people in their environments, and understanding the diverse identities that influence their experiences, as this resource does; stakeholders are better equipped to holistically address the determents that too often push young people onto the streets,” said Kristopher Sharp, a 2015 True Fellow.
The release of “At the Intersections” comes a day before #40toNoneDay, a national day led by the True Colors Fund to raise awareness about LGBTQ youth homelessness.