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New study confirms 40 percent of homeless youth are gay

Family rejection the leading cause of LGBT youth homelessness
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A new study has confirmed what advocates for LGBT teenagers have known for sometime: a high number of homeless young adults in the US are gay.

The report, sponsored by the Palette Fund, True Colors Fund, and Williams Institute, is based on information provided by 381 respondents from 354 agencies working with youngsters and  homeless-related services. The study offers the following figures:

1) LGBT youth comprise approximately 40 percent of the clientele served by agencies represented in the sample.

2) Among both homeless and non-homeless clients, 30 percent identified as gay or lesbian and 9 percent as bisexual.

3) One percent  of homeless and non-homeless clients were identified as 'other gender' but at least another percent of the total clientele were transgender youth who were identified on the survey as either male or female.

4) Close to all agencies (91 percent) reported using intake forms to track the demographic information of their clients, including information on sexual orientation and gender identity; around 30 percent of agencies use staff estimates to approximate the number of LGBT youth.

The report added since teenagers may not self-identify when seeking services, the above figures 'may underestimate the proportion of LGBT youth served by homeless youth providers.'

The providers in the study noted that 68 percent of the LGBT youths they see 'have experienced family rejection' and 54 percent 'had experienced abuse in their family.'

'The results of this survey act as further confirmation that America’s next generation of gay and transgender youth need us to stand with them so that they can stand on their own,'  Gregory Lewis, executive director of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Fund, said in a Williams Institute press release. 'One of our key findings shows that in order for that to happen we all need to join together and support the hard working and dedicated service providers helping these young people every day, we need to re-double our efforts to support them so they can help all of the youth in need.'

Although the figures are stark, one of the report's co-authors, Gary Gates, pointed to the spike of homeless shelters serving gay youth.

'While we would all like to see an end to homelessness among all youth, it is encouraging to see how many providers are not only willing to serve LGBT youth, but recognize the unique challenges that they face,' Gates said in the press release.  'Finding additional resources to address those challenges will be critical to solving these difficult problems.'

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