Federal Advocacy

Family Acceptance and Homelessness

The Trevor Project recognizes the detrimental effects that family rejection on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity can have LGBTQ youth. In one study, lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth who reported higher levels of family rejection during adolescence were 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression, 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs, and 3.4 times more likely to report having engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse compared with peers from families that reported no or low levels of family rejection. (Ryan, C., Russell, S.T., Huebner, D, Diaz, R. Sanchez, J. (2009). Family Rejection as a Predictor of Negative Health Outcomes in White and Latino Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Young Adults. Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 123, 346-352. For more information visit the Family Acceptance Project: http://familyproject.sfsu.edu/).

As a result of family rejection, discrimination, criminalization, and a host of other factors, LGBTQ youth represent as much as 40 percent of the homeless youth population. (Durso, L.E., & Gates, G.J. (2012). Serving Our Youth: Findings from a National Survey of Service Providers Working with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth who are Homeless or At Risk of Becoming Homeless. Los Angeles: The Williams Institute with True Colors Fund and The Palette Fund. http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Durso-Gates-LGBT-Homeless-Youth-Survey-July-2012.pdf). Of those 40 percent, studies indicate that as many as 60 percent are likely to attempt suicide. (James M. Van Leeuwen and others, “Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Homeless Youth: An Eight City Public Health Perspective,” Child Welfare 85 (2) (2005): 151-170). Positive family relationships are some of the most important factors in reducing the risk of youth suicide. We urge policy makers to fully fund efforts to support homeless youth and to ensure that out of home care, foster care, and adoption is inclusive, nondiscriminatory, and culturally competent.

Of youth who are homeless, 40% are estimated to identify as LGBTQ. Of these 40%, as many as 60% are likely to attempt suicide. Positive family environments are some of the most effective ways to combat a young person’s risk for suicide. The Trevor Project urges policy makers to fully fund efforts to support homeless youth and to ensure that out of home care, foster care, and adoption is inclusive, non-discriminatory and culturally competent.