Presentation by: Dawn Baldwin Homeless youth are typically considered to be unaccompanied youth, ages 12-24 who do not have familial support (financial or emotional) and are living on the streets, in shelters, in uninhabitable areas (i.e., cars and abandoned/condemned buildings) or in the homes of their friends for short periods of time. Periods of homelessness can range anywhere from one night to several years.2,5,12 “Homelessness is not an event but a process, involving a number of contributing factors” including physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse as well as drug dependency, health problems, interrupted schooling and a history of self harm, and/or prostitution.3 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) adolescents have been found to experience higher levels of victimization than their heterosexual counterparts both before and after leaving the home.1,10 Additionally, they are at a higher risk for mental health issues, sexual exploitation, and chemical dependency.1,5,8 Several studies have speculated that as many as 20% to 40% of an estimated 1.6 million homeless youth in the United States identify themselves as LGBTQ.1,4,5,6,8,10,12 Of the estimated 20% to 40% of LGBTQ Homeless Youth in the U.S., it is estimated that anywhere from 25% to 50% of these youth are asked to leave and even forcibly removed from their homes due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.5,6,7,8,12 Estimated 1.6 Million Homeless Youth in the U.S. Non-LGBTQ Homeless Youth Estimated 20% - 40% LGBTQ Homeless Youth HOW DO LGBTQ YOUTH BECOME HOMELESS? Many leave home willingly due to family rejection and increased antigay mistreatment at home, school, and in their communities due to their self-identification as LGBTQ.2,9 Many LGBTQ adolescents leave home due to incidents of parental/caretaker physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect as well as their caretaker’s abuse of drugs and/or alcohol and possible incarceration.2,7,12 Approximately 10% more LGB youth (transgendered and queer/questioning individuals were not included in this particular study) than non-LGB youth reported having been in the custody of social services at least once, demonstrating a troubled home life.10,11 Most LGBTQ adolescents, however, likely leave because they believe they will be better off on their own. Survival Strategies of LGBTQ Homeless Youth Survival strategies of many homeless LGBTQ youth include4,12: Accessing homeless services (i.e., shelters and food pantries) Asking friends or family for money Making, dealing, and/or running drugs Joining gangs Panhandling Robbery and theft Prostitution (Survival sex) Working POSSIBLE EFFECTS THESE SURVIVAL STRATEGIES MAY HAVE ON THE YOUTH4,8,10 Decreases in self-esteem/self-worth Increased risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections, including HIV Higher levels of hopelessness, depressive symptoms and anxiety Increases in drug and alcohol use and suicidality Increased risk of police interaction and incarceration Greater risk of psychological disorders Increases in aggression and physical violence Higher risk for victimization Higher hospital admission rates and an increased risk of death WHY DO LGBTQ YOUTH REMAIN HOMELESS? Based on their previous experiences with authority figures, LGTBTQ youth may have a fear of continued victimization by adults if they seek help to end their homelessness. Additionally, they may fear victimization from others on the street if they are found to have sought help.4,12 They are more adversely affected by the negative social relationships and low support levels they acquire on the street than their non-LGBTQ counterparts. They may also refuse outside services as a defense mechanism to reduce exposure to trauma by others.8,12 Homeless youth services are not always tailored to the population they wish to help. It is more likely that a youth will seek assistance if they know that those services will be sensitive to their specific needs as a LGBTQ youth.1,4,12 HOW YOU CAN HELP REACH OUT! Donate money, food and supplies to a local shelter, food pantry or organization that provides for LGBTQ youth and families. GET INVOLVED! Volunteer your time or services to a local LGBTQ-friendly organization. GET THE WORD OUT! Work at a local organization or convey your interest in serving as a Board member to become an advocate for the community. VOTE! Support LGBTQ and homeless legislation locally and nationally, including the Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act introduced by Massachusetts Senator John Kerry this past May 2011. FIGHT! Join celebrities in their fight to end LGBTQ homelessness. Click here for a message from Lady Gaga. See a message from the Give a Damn campaign here. NATIONAL RESOURCES FOR LGBT HOMELESS YOUTH AND THEIR FAMILIES AND FRIENDS The Ali Forney Center and The Friends Project The Friends Project was started by David Raleigh to raise money for the Ali Forney Center in New York City, which provides emergency and transitional housing and additional resources to the area’s homeless LGBT Youth. Watch The Friends Project video here. Larkin Street San Francisco Youth Center Assists LGBTQ homeless youth in obtaining health services, housing, employment and education. Watch Larkin Street Stories: The Homeless LGBT Experience here. National Coalition for the Homeless National advocacy center working to end homelessness. National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce National organization that offers legal and political representation as well as research and policy analysis for advancement of the LGBTQ community. Southern Arizona’s Wingspan Wingspan, based in Tucson, Arizona offers support to the community by providing crisis intervention and advocacy to homeless LGBT Youth. On a more basic level, they also provide these youth with food, bus passes, clothing and hygiene supplies. Watch Wingspan video here. LOCAL RESOURCES Howard Brown Health Center’s Broadway Youth Center Chicago center offers medical and counseling services, youth workshops, food, showers, hygiene supplies to LGBTQ homeless youth on a drop-in basis. La Casa Norte Offers medical testing, employment assistance and educational support to area homeless teens. La Casa Norte also runs several housing programs in the Chicago area to cater to homeless youth with different backgrounds. LGBTQ-identified youth welcome. NCO Youth and Family Services Naperville, IL centers offer group and transitional housing as well as counseling and assistance for area homeless teens. LGBTQ-identified youth welcome. Teen Living Programs Offers emergency and transitional housing as well as skill-building groups for area homeless teens. LGBTQ-identified youth welcome. UCAN - Uhlich Children’s Advantage Network (Chicago) Offers counseling and assistance with living arrangements, including a LGBTQ Home Host Program References 1. Cochran, B. N., Steward, A. J., Ginzler, J. A., & Cauce, A. (2002). Challenges faced by homeless sexual minorities: Comparison of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender homeless adolescents with their heterosexual counterparts. American Journal of Public Health, 92(5), 773-777. 2. Cull, M., Platzer, H., & Balloch, S. (2006). Out on my own: Understanding the experiences and needs of homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. Health and Social Policy Research Centre, University of Brighton. 3. Dunne, G. A., Prendergast, S., & Telford, D. (2002). Young, gay, homeless and invisible: A growing population? Culture Health & Sexuality, 4(1), 103-115. 4. Hein, L. C. (2011). Survival strategies of male homeless adolescents. Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, 20(10), 1-9. 5. National Alliance to End Homelessness (2008), “Incidence and Vulnerability of LGBTQ Homeless Youth,” Youth Homelessness Series Brief No. 2, downloaded from http://www.endhomelessness.org/content/article/detail/2141/ 6. Pergamit and Ernst (2010a). “Runaway Youth’s Knowledge and Access of Services.” Available at http://www.nrscrisisline.org/media/documents/NORC_Final_Report_4_22_10.pdf 7. Ray, N. (2006). Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth: An epidemic of homelessness. New York: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute and the National Coalition for the Homeless. 8. Rosario, M., Schrimshaw, E. W., & Hunter, J. (2011). Homelessness among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth: Implications for subsequent internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, online only. doi:10.1007/s10964-011-9681-3 9. Ryan, C., Huebner, D., Diaz, R. M., & Sanchez, J. (2009). Family rejection as a predictor of negative health outcomes in white and latino lesbian, gay, and bisexual young adults. Pediatrics, 123(1), 346-352. 10. Van Leeuwen, J. M., Boyle, S., Salomonsen-Sautel, S., Baker, D. N., Garcia, J. T., Hoffman A., & Hopfer, C. J. (2006). Lesbian, gay, and bisexual homeless youth: An eight-city public health perspective. Child Welfare, 85, 151-170. 11. Walls, N. E., Potter, C., & Van Leeuwen, J. (2009). Where risks and protective factors operate differently: Homeless sexual minority youth and suicide attempts. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 26(3), 235-257. 12. Whitbeck, L. B., Chen, X., Hoyt, D. R., Tyler, K., & Johnson, K. D. (2004). Mental disorder, subsistence strategies, and victimization among gay, lesbian, and bisexual homeless and runaway adolescents. Journal of Sex Research, 41(4), 329342. *All photos courtesy of Brett Sandusky **Please feel free to utilize this presentation as a private teaching tool, however, this presentation may not be copied in whole or in part without the written consent of the author. Contact Dawn Baldwin for use of presentation or photo materials at [email protected] Thank you for your cooperation.