Identifying and Serving LGBTQ Youth: Case Studies of Runaway and Homeless Youth Grantees
By Andrew Burwick, Vanessa Oddo, Laura Durso, Daniel Friend, Gary Gates
A study published by Mathematica and co-authored by the Williams Institute examines services for LGBTQ runaway and homeless youth. Challenges in the effort to improve services for these youth include: (1) lack of local resources that focus on LGBTQ youth; (2) difficulty of overcoming social stigma, especially toward LGBTQ youth of color and transgender or gender-nonconforming youth; and (3) staff concerns about singling out a specific population of runaway and homeless youth, while continuing to help all youth who need an agency’s services. Staff generally felt that homeless youth face similar types of risks, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. Nevertheless, some types of risks—emotional distress and poor mental health, substance abuse and sexual risk behavior, and problems with family and personal relationships—were perceived to be particularly salient or frequent among LGBTQ youth.