Tuesday, January 22, 2013

LGBTQ Youth and Homelessness

Being LGBTQ in a country that’s mostly heterosexual and gender-conforming can be like playing a video game on difficult mode. It doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t have a fun time playing. However, it may mean you’re playing with more enemies and fewer resources. It does mean it’s harder to win.

It can be harder to gain acceptance from your peers, your family and your community. Many LGBTQ teens are lucky enough to have family and friends to support them. However, other teens aren’t as lucky. One in four teens who come out are kicked out of their homes. Others run away from abusive and unaccepting parents. We think we live in a very accepting city, but LGBTQ youth around Seattle are being kicked out and living in shelters because of their sexual orientation.

It can be harder to find shelters and feel safe in shelters, especially since some shelters have been known to turn away LGBTQ individuals. Staying in a shelter can pose other problems. Violence and discrimination are parts of the LGBTQ homeless experience, and because of this, staying in a shelter can mean living in fear of an attack. In fact, LGBTQ homeless youth are 7.4 times more likely to face sexual violence than their straight counterparts. Although shelters may provide safety from the cold, they may not always provide a peace of mind.

In addition, shelters aren’t always inclusive toward trans* people. One in three transgender people report being turned away from a shelter due to their gender identity. Although it is important they have housing consistent with their gender identity, some trans* women have no choice but to stay in the men’s shelter.
There are challenges faced by the LGBTQ homeless community, but fortunately, there are several great resources in King County.

Some Seattle-area LGBTQ-inclusive resources include:

La-Ba-Te-Yah Youth Home -  Transitional housing for homeless youth, urban Native Americans and youth of color. Co-ed; has an amazing Two-Spirit program and a good number of Two-Spirit staff. 25 beds for youth, ages 14-21. Youth may stay up to 18 months.

9010 13th Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98117

ISIS House - Transitional housing for LGBTQ homeless youth. Part of YouthCare. For youth under 18 pursuing an education and individuals over 18 studying or working.

2500 NE 54th St.
Seattle, WA 98105

If you think someone could benefit from information on LGBTQ-friendly programs or just needs support, call Teen Link toll-free at (866)-TEEN-LINK, visit our website at www.866TeenLink.org or give them our number and web address.

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