BRAZOS VALLEY, TX — According to the Voices of Youth Count project, reportedly 27% of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning homeless youth, reported exchanging sex for basic needs, such as food and water.
Within the project's studies, researchers at the University of Chicago found these experiences to align with traditional risk factors for sex trafficking.
Additionally, researchers cited a lack of supportive adult figures, educational resources, means to earn an income, and prior childhood sexual abuse, to all, be contributing factors to this risk as well.
In fact, researchers uncovered that 38% of LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homeless, reported being forced to perform sex. Of this studied youth group, about 25-35% of males engaging in prostitution identified as either gay, bisexual, or trans. Furthermore, regardless of self-identification, at least 95% of prostitution engaged, was provided to adult men.
This sexual abuse, however, is not sexual-orientation-specific, for the LGBTQ+ community. Indeed, while many factors can contribute to queer youth running away... it is estimated that between 40-50% of homeless queer males exploited in prostitution, had actually been thrown out of their home because of their sexual identities.
However, this isn't to say that this abuse began immediately after coming out for many of these queer youths.
Rather, experts over at the Homelessness Policy Research Institute, found that their housing status was rarely an "event" in which queer youth shifted abruptly from stable housing, to suddenly homelessness. Indeed, the studied youth reportedly described a 'gradual escalation of the parent-child conflict over time', as opposed to an immediate reaction as often popularized in Hollywood.
On a positive note though, this also implies that there are often more times and windows of opportunity, to reach out to queer youth and help devolve their difficult situations away from homelessness and sex trafficking.
Within their research, the institute found that most of said families often faced even broader issues of housing instability, including poverty, addiction, mental health problems, and gentrification. According to their national survey, said dynamics disproportionately affect young queer Black men, ages 18 to 25, where nearly one in four of them reported experiencing homelessness.
At the end of the day, queer youth strives for acceptance and to not be simply viewed as just their sexual or gender identity, but rather, as valuable human beings with multidimensional lives and aspirations.
To learn more about reaching out to queer youth via the Trevor Project, click here!
Founded in 1988, the Trevor Project serves to provide crisis intervention services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning young people under the age of 25.
If you or anyone you know is in need of immediate crisis intervention, the Trevor Project Crisis Hotline is available 24/7 at (866)-488-7386.
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