Sexual Identity and Service Availability Among Homeless, Runaway and Thrownaway Youth (HRTY): Findings from a National Survey of HRTY Service Providers and Clients
Orr, W. A., Greene, J. M., & Crum, L. (2005, December). Sexual Identity and Service Availability Among Homeless, Runaway and Thrownaway Youth (HRTY): Findings from a National Survey of HRTY Service Providers and Clients. Presented at American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.
Public health service providers and researchers have recognized that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (GLBTQ) youth represent a substantial proportion of HRTY, with as many as 25-40% identifying as GLBTQ. These youth often bring problems and issues such as lack of family and social support, high risk for disease and victimization, and social stigma that can compound other problems associated with homelessness. In addition, some research suggests that GLBTQ youth may be at an especially high risk for mental health problems and face an elevated risk of suicide.
This presentation examines the extent to which HRTY service providers are aware of and respond to GLBTQ issues. Data are from the study “Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for Homeless, Runaway, and Thrownaway Youth” conducted in 2004. This nationally representative study included a structured survey administered to directors of 64 HRTY programs, qualitative interviews with key staff from these programs, and a structured interview with 531 HRTY served by these programs.
Approximately 25% of the youth sample self-identified as GLBTQ. Approximately 80% of the programs reportedly serve GLBTQ, but most indicated that only 1-10% of their clients are GLBTQ. Approximately one-quarter of the programs reported that they provide specialized services for GLBTQ, and 30% indicated that they frequently match GLBTQ clients to staff based on sexual orientation. Further analyses of these data by organization size, religious affiliation, and location are presented, and policy implications for improving services for HRTY GLBTQ youth are discussed.