Experts Weigh in on Report Detailing High Number of LGBT Homeless

CHICAGO – After the Williams Institute, True Colors Fund and the Palette Fund released a critical study on LGBT youth homelessness last month, Chicago-based experts have weighed in and offered reaction to the study’s findings that 40 percent of homeless youth identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender and many agencies designed to meet their needs have failed to adequately address pressing concerns. The study, conducted between October 2011 and March 2012, was designed to assess how homeless youth organizations provide services to LGBT youth. (See related story)

About 380 respondents from 354 agencies that serve homeless youth participated in the web-based survey. Overall, the study found that the current network of homeless youth providers “is not adequately addressing the needs of gay and transgender homeless youth,” according to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. The survey showed about 30 percent of homeless using housing-related services—emergency shelters and transitional living programs—were LGBT.

LGBT Youth Over-Represented in Juvenile Justice System

A disproportionate number of LGBT teens are represented in the nation’s juvenile justice system, possibly making up as much as 15 percent of the total juvenile justice population in the United States, according to a representative of the Center for American Progress. The findings were discussed last month in Washington, D.C. at an event sponsored by the National Council on Crime & Delinquency and titled “Unfair Criminalization of LGBT Youth.”

Aisha Moodie-Mills, a LGBT policy and racial justice advisor at the Center for American Progress, presented findings on behalf of Dr. Angela Irvine, one of four authors of “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Youth and the Juvenile Justice System.”  The results from the report, which were published in the 2011 book, “Juvenile Justice: Advancing Research, Policy, and Practice,” state that while gay and transgender teens make up only 5 to 7 percent of the total youth population, they represent an estimated 13 to 15 percent of the population of young people involved with the nation’s juvenile justice system. Moderating the event, Moodie-Mills said that stressors from family and school could potentially make LGBT teens more vulnerable than the general population to violence, prostitution and homelessness. Shortly after the event, survey findings from a joint project involving the Williams Institute, the Palette Fund and the True Colors Fund found that almost 40 percent of the nation’s homeless or at-risk youth are gay or transgender. Panelist Maya Rupert, a representative of the National Council for Lesbian Rights, said that several institutions, such as the nation’s education and legal systems, were failing the country’s LGBT teens.