Skip to comments.1 in 4 gay/lesbian high school students are homeless
Posted on 07/23/2011 3:07:26 PM PDT by decimon
Among homeless teens, GLB teens are more likely to live away from their families
Roughly 1 in 4 lesbian or gay teens and 15 percent of bisexual teens are homeless, versus 3 percent of exclusively heterosexual teens, finds a Children's Hospital Boston study of more than 6,300 Massachusetts public high school students. Moreover, among teens who were homeless, those who were gay, lesbian or bisexual (GLB) were consistently more likely than heterosexuals to be on their own, unaccompanied by a parent or guardian.
The study, published online July 21 by the American Journal of Public Health, is the first to quantify the risk of homelessness among teens of different sexual orientations with population-based data. "Prior studies in 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."
Corliss and colleagues analyzed data from the 2005 and 2007 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS). The YRBS, conducted every other year in most U.S. states, draws a representative sample of students in grades 9 through 12. In 2005, Massachusetts was the first state to add a multiple-choice question assessing homeless status, asking "What is your primary nighttime residence?" or "Where do you typically sleep at night?" Homelessness was defined as lacking a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence, as per the McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Act, the primary federal legislation dealing with the education of homeless children and youth in U.S. public schools.
The initial sample of 6,653 students was narrowed to 6,317 who gave full information on their sexual orientation and homelessness status. Less than 5 percent of students overall identified themselves as GLB, yet they accounted for 19 percent of those who identified themselves as homeless.
Rates of homelessness were 3.2 percent among exclusively heterosexual students, 12.5 percent among heterosexuals reporting same-sex partners, 15 percent among bisexuals, 25 percent among lesbian/gay students, and 20 percent among students who said they were unsure of their sexual orientation.
Among the youth who were homeless, those who were not exclusively heterosexual were more likely to be living away from their families. Among boys identifying as gay, 15 percent were homeless but unaccompanied by parents/guardians, and 8 percent were homeless but living with parents. Among lesbian girls, 22.5 percent were homeless and unaccompanied, while just 3.8 percent were homeless but with their parents. The same pattern held among bisexual students, among heterosexuals with same-sex partners, and among males unsure of their sexual orientation.
"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."
The researchers hope their findings will raise awareness of the vulnerability of GLB youth to homelessness, particularly among school administrators and other professionals working with adolescents. Homeless people are well documented as being at increased risk for victimization, physical and sexual abuse, mental health problems, substance use problems and sexual risk behaviors. These risks are even greater for teens who lack their families' supervision and support.
"The high risk of homelessness among sexual minority teens is a serious problem requiring immediate attention," says Corliss. "These teens face enormous risks and all types of obstacles to succeeding in school and are in need of a great deal of assistance."
The study has limitations in being done only in Massachusetts, where attitudes toward homosexuality tend to be more favorable, so it possibly underestimates the proportion of GLB youth that are homeless nationally. It also included only students who were at school on the day the survey was administered, so may have missed more homeless youths, who are more likely to be absent from school. Finally, because it was based on the YRBS, it wasn't able to assess family relationships or whether teens were "out" about their sexuality.
Bryn Austin, ScD, of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Children's Hospital Boston, was senior investigator on the study. Carol Goodenow, PhD, with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and Lauren Nichols of Children's were coauthors. Funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration.
Resources for GLB teens
The Massachusetts Commission on GLBT Youth, whose goal is to improve the health and safety of sexual minority youth, provides information on available resources and makes annual recommendations to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for addressing the health needs of this population, including the problem of homelessness.
Support and assistance are available from the youth-led Boston Alliance of Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgendered Youth and through drop-in-centers run by the Boston-based Justice Resource Institute (Boston GLASS) and the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts (Youth on Fire).
Health services for homeless youth are available at the Sidney Borum Jr. Health Center.
A list of national resources for teens and youth can be found on the websites of the Center for Young Women's Health and the Center for Young Men's Health.
Special services for homeless teens are available through the McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Act.
Children's Hospital Boston is home to the world's largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center, where its discoveries have benefited both children and adults since 1869. More than 1,100 scientists, including nine members of the National Academy of Sciences, 12 members of the Institute of Medicine and 13 members of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute comprise Children's research community. Founded as a 20-bed hospital for children, Children's Hospital Boston today is a 392-bed comprehensive center for pediatric and adolescent health care grounded in the values of excellence in patient care and sensitivity to the complex needs and diversity of children and families. Children's also is the primary pediatric teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. For more information about research and clinical innovation at Boston Children's visit: Vector Blog.
I have...and his lifestyle choice is a puzzle to many. He is a talented medical professional (a doctor) who was an honors graduate, very musically gifted (voice and piano), athletic, and well liked. He was also active in his church. Everyone loved him wherever he went, and people still do. His family includes siblings and both parents. However, he has an uncle who is also gay. There seems to be no other reason for his sexual orientation other than something hereditary...and though this idea is mostly debunked here, it seems the reason in his case. He struggled for years and dated women before he realized he was just not interested, and he found that men were more to his liking.
I know that today many teens jump on the gay bandwagon because they consider it "cool" or the acceptable way to act our their teen rebellion and sexual urges. But I don't think that is always the case, as I do believe that some do have a different feeling about their sexual identity that they just cannot change. It is an issue between them and God, I believe.
My only real beef with the current popular gay culture is their in-your-face behavior. I do not care to see naked, or partially naked homosexuals engaged in fondling or acting out sexual fantisies any more than I care to see heterosexuals doing the same thing in public. Sex is for private enjoyment...in one's own home or behind closed doors...no matter who a person is engaged with. And marriage is between a man and a woman, or God would have given Adam another man in the garden... and given Eve a female playmate.
I believe the fight for allowing gay marriage began, initially, because of financial advantages (taxes, health insurance for partners, etc.) that the gays wanted. In the beginning gay marriage arguments had nothing to do with their emotional desire to be recognized as a married couple. Over the years it became easier to push the emotional argument than the financial one. The general liberal public always wants to give into "feelings" more than listen to cold facts. So, gays garnered sympathetic ears in this PC world because Libs wanted to think of themselves as being nice enough to understand and empathize with the sad, emotional needs of the gay population.
Perhaps it is directly related to why so many homeless adults are mentally ill?
I remember hearing the man how started Exodus International(can’t remember his name) saying that all gay males he’d counseled had been molested as children by an older male.
Ah, you beat me by a couple minutes on the mental illness angle.......
Yes. Because their parents threw them out.
DING...DING...DING...we have a winner!!! Either that or they go find a homo friendly family they can live with (I have friends who have been dealing with this...it’s mostly a narcissist problem for many of these people.)
This doesn't say. If they truly care for these kids then that should be determined.
Allow me to introduce myself. Would introduce you to both my parents but my dad died a few years back.
For them --as for most of us, at least at some point in our lives --- it's a struggle to live wisely and well, have wholesome friendships, and avoid morally objectionable behaviors.
But the cardboard boxes they sleep in are fabulous!!
“Yes. Because their parents threw them out.”
I have seen that happen.
Those parents are miserable creatures.
Many homeless are mentally ill, addicts, so how many of these teens fall into this category?
There is a need to study the reasons of this phenomenon, if the number is correct. Were they thrown out by their parents? Or they ran away from home on their own conviction? From shame, emotional distress of parents’ treatment of them, or others?
My heart goes to those kids. Regardless one’s view on how a person becomes gay, I still find it sad. If one accepts that homosexual tendency is born, then parents couldn’t do anything about that. If one accepts that homosexual tendency is caused by environment, it means the parents are also responsible for their children (yes, teenagers are still children), so they should deal with the kids.
In any case, more information regarding the reasons they are homeless in the first place is needed.
It could be precipitated by abuse, but it could also be some deep psychological pain, like a parent dying, and not being helped through the grief by family. This could cause a young person to look for help outside the family, and this is the perfect opportunity for a predator to take advantage. If it's a homosexual encounter, it's very easy for the predator to convince the young person that he or she MUST be 'gay', and that leads to a downward spiral into the lifestyle.
As for lesbians, it seems many are very outspoken about having CHOSEN their sexual lifestyle precisely as a pushback against 'patriarchy'.
IMHO, Gay and Lesbian teens are doing a lot of sexual experimentation (how otherwise would they know what they are) and a decent parent isn’t going to put up with that under their roof.
A real hidden secret of homosexuals is how they are sorely afflicted by both physical and psychological problems, that have little or nothing to do with their sexuality, at rates far higher than the percentage of heterosexuals with such problems.
To a great extent these problems are masked by the assumption that they *do* have something to do with their homosexuality. Which is hard to assert in that many of those problems are congenital, or even genetic.
In the case of homelessness, note that the study assumes that the *reason* they are homeless is because of their sexuality. But what if it isn’t?
To start with, I imagine that many of them are repeated “runaways”, who chose to leave their families, because they were very unhappy living with them in general. Others who ran away because they were engaging in other behavior intolerable to their family, such as abusing drugs and alcohol, stealing, or other non-sexual offenses.
And no doubt, some are homeless because they were kicked out of their parents home because of their sexuality.
In my book, throwing a son/daughter out of the home has already shown the parents’ failure. Such action is nothing but washing hand in the name of ‘saving the rest of the family’. The parents simply cannot deal with their own issue, i.e., the shame of failure in raising their kids.
But again, it depends on how old the kids are, and whether they have talked it out thoroughly.
Homosexuality is what St. Paul would call ‘thorn in the flesh’ for Christians. Something that is perennially stays with the person, regardless one’s belief whether it’s by choice or by birth. The same applies to the person who has the tendency and his/her parents/family members. St. Paul said he cannot get rid of it. He just needs to deal with it.
I don’t believe it. I have a lesbian sister. My parents never stopped supporting her.
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