Press

New York City study confirms nearly one-third of city’s homeless youth are LGBT; validates Task Force report figures

Date: 
December 19, 2007

MEDIA CONTACT:
Roberta Sklar, Communications Director
(Office) 646.358.1465
(Cell) 917.704.6358
rsklar@theTaskForce.org

“Our youth constitute an overwhelming and disproportionate percentage of those navigating the dangers of life on the street. … How are we as a community taking responsibility for their safety and well-being?”
— Matt Foreman, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

NEW YORK, Dec. 19 — A new study commissioned by the New York City Council has found that almost one-third of New York’s homeless youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, confirming the findings of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s groundbreaking national study, LGBT Youth: An Epidemic of Homelessness, released last December.

“We applaud the City Council for committing the resources to uncover and address this tragedy,” said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “While LGBT people make up about five percent of the city’s population, our youth constitute an overwhelming and disproportionate percentage of those navigating the dangers of life on the street.”

The study by the Empire State Coalition of Youth and Family Services closely mirrors the findings of the Task Force/National Coalition for the Homeless report, which found that between 20 and 40 percent of homeless youth across the nation are LGBT. Both studies highlight the particular vulnerability of LGBT youth, who are too often targeted for ostracism and abuse not only at home and school, but also in the shelters where they might hope to find sanctuary.

While the recent New York City study draws our attention to the terrible plight of LGBT youth, media coverage yesterday made no reference to the particular challenges and threats faced by transgender youth if they land on the streets. The Task Force report notes that transgender homeless youth are more likely to face discrimination in the traditional shelter system, more likely to find it difficult to obtain and maintain meaningful employment, and are subsequently far more likely to engage in survival sex or other risky behaviors.

Foreman added, “These findings confirm a tremendous need for LGBT-affirming programs — whether they be shelters, transitional housing or services. Research has found that fully one-quarter of homeless gay youth are forced to leave home when they come out. Where are these young people going to go? How are we as a community taking responsibility for their safety and well-being?”

–30–

The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.