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The Commission joins young people, providers, researchers, and policymakers around the country to participate in 40 to None Day – a national day to raise public awareness about LGBTQ youth homelessness and ways to make a difference.

While the state has made progress for LGBTQ youth, LGBTQ young people disproportionately lack a safe, stable place to live. The 2015 Massachusetts Youth Count found that at least 22 percent of unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness identified as LGBTQ or refused to answer. With national estimates suggesting that approximately 40 percent of youth experiencing homelessness are LGBTQ, that number may be an underestimate.

Research suggests that – as with all youth – homelessness presents significant challenges to the health, safety, and wellbeing of LGBTQ young people. According to data from the Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey:

  • 44 percent of homeless LGB students reported ever using heroin, compared to 5 percent of housed LGB students and 12 percent of homeless heterosexual students
  • 39 percent of homeless LGB students reported a suicide attempt in the past year, compared to 20 percent of housed LGB students and 19 percent of homeless heterosexual students
  • 60 percent of homeless LGB students reported sexual contact against their will, compared to 27 percent of housed LGB students and 31 percent of homeless heterosexual students

While the state has only recently started to collect data on transgender young people, national research suggests that unaccompanied transgender youth likewise experience homelessness at disproportionate rates, struggling to obtain shelter, health care, and other vital services.

Massachusetts must work to ensure that all youth have access to a reliable and affirming place to call home and the resources they need not only to survive, but also to thrive. In the face of adversity, LGBTQ youth demonstrate resiliency through chosen family and a sense of pride in who they are – but they need space and support to achieve their goals.

A first step is to better understand the experiences of LGBTQ youth who are homeless or unstably housed. The 2017 Massachusetts Youth Count runs from May 1 to May 14. Young people, educators, providers, and community members can help by spreading the word and making it clear that LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness are more than just a number.

Note: Numbers from the Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey are based on analysis of data from 2005 to 2013 by Carol Goodenow on behalf of the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth.  


Mass Commission on LGBTQ Youth

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