IGY gay youth group 311.
(photo credit: IGY )
Although developments in gay rights have lead to homosexual teenagers being more widely accepted, researchers in the US have found that almost one in four lesbian or gay teens is homeless. This is compared with three percent of exclusively heterosexual teens.
According to a Children's Hospital Boston study, gay, lesbian and and bisexual (GLB) teenagers were much more likely than straight teens to be on their own on the street, as opposed to being accompanied by a parent or guardian.
"Prior studies concerning homeless street youth have found that sexual minorities occur in much higher numbers than we'd expect based on their numbers in the community in general," says Heather Corliss, PhD, MPH, of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Children's, the study's first author. "This study looked at the magnitude of the difference for the first time."
Of the 6,317 high school students who gave full information on their sexual orientation and homelessness status, less than five percent identified themselves as GLB, yet they accounted for 19% of those who identified themselves as homeless.
"Teens with a sexual minority orientation are more likely than heterosexual teens to be unaccompanied and homeless rather than part of a homeless family," says Corliss. "This suggests that they may be more likely to be mistreated or rejected by their families and more likely to leave home."
Although the study had certain limitations, the researchers hope their findings will raise awareness of the vulnerability of GLB youth to homelessness.