Homelessness among LGBT youth has reached "epidemic" proportions, according to a new report by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and the National Coalition for the Homeless. Nationwide, approximately 575,000 to 1.6 million youths are believed to be homeless or runaways. Of those, some 42 percent are believed to lesbian, gay or transgender.
The study, "An Epidemic of Homelessness"—full pdf version here—says more than a quarter of the LGBT youth who came out to their parents or guardians were kicked out. Once on the street, homeless youth are particularly vulnerable to mental health problems, drug abuse, prostitution and HIV/AIDS.
New York City has been applauded for its unprecedented funding and services for homeless LGBT youth. (Previous reporting here.) Of its $2.6 million budget for beds for at-risk, runaway and homeless youth, half of the funding targets LGBT homeless youth services. Authorities admit the exact population is unknown, but estimate there are at least 30,000 homeless youths in the city, of whom at least 8,400 are LGBT. Three or four shelters specifically target homeless LGBT youth with a total of about 65 beds—and there are often waiting lists. Openly gay homeless youth often report being mistreated, harassed or turned away from shelters, particularly faith-based ones.
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