Experiences of Homelessness Among Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) Youth in the U.S.: Findings from CDC’s START—a National-Level Convenience Sample of Sgm Youth Recruited Using Social Media
Thursday, November 7, 2019
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Plaza Exhibits (Sheraton Denver Downtown)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Sexual and gender minority (SGM) youth in the U.S. experience homelessness at disproportionately high rates relative to non-sexual and gender minority youth. However, relatively little data exist for policymakers and direct service providers on the backgrounds and identities of SGM youth experiencing homelessness. The purpose of this presentation is to describe the findings from a recent web-based survey of SGM youth, focusing on SGM youth who reported not living with their parents or guardians (i.e., in a foster home, shelter, on the street) and comparing them to respondents living with their parents or guardians in terms of healthcare access and parental support. CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) contracted with NORC to conduct a web-based HIV prevention survey of adolescent men who have sex with men (AMSM) and transgender youth using social media platforms for recruitment (i.e., Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram). In 2018, the Survey of Today’s Adolescent Relationships and Transitions (START) collected data from over 3,100 SGM youth across a variety of topics, including sexual and gender identity, behavior, and attraction; race and ethnicity; access to sex education; parental involvement; and housing. Among START respondents 13-17 years old, 8% of AMSM and 6% of transgender youth reported living in a foster home, shelter, or on the street. These youth were almost twice as likely as those living with their parents or guardians to report a negative reaction from their parents upon coming out. This supports existing research that finds family conflict, specifically disapproval of the child’s sexuality and/or gender identity, to be a leading contributor to SGM youth homelessness. There were also associations between experiences of homelessness and respondents’ health and healthcare access. For example, START respondents who reported living in a foster home, shelter, or on the street were more than twice as likely as those living with their parents or guardians to identify as being in poor overall health and over six times as likely to not have health insurance. Findings from this study provide insight for policymakers and direct service providers regarding the distinct needs of SGM youth experiencing homelessness and can inform the development of anti-homelessness strategies that affirm and are responsive to minority identities.