According to a study by The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered individuals make up 20-40 percent of the homeless youth population in the U.S.
While estimates vary, only about 5-10 percent of the youth population identifies as LGBT.
One in four LGBT youth are kicked out of their homes as a direct result of coming out to their families, according to the study.
Despite growing support for marriage equality and similar causes, the LGBT homeless youth population has remained largely ignored.
Of the hundreds of youth homeless shelters in the United States, only four specifically address the needs of LGBT homeless youths.
Issues facing homeless LGBT youths vary from homeless heterosexual youths, despite the lack of specialized care.
A homeless youth may be living on the street or in a shelter, or they may have aged out of foster care or state custody with nowhere to go.
The study also says fifty percent of homeless LGBT youths face a “negative reaction” to coming out, and more than a third experience “a violent physical assault” as a result.
Many choose to leave home as a direct result of this abuse.
The National Coalition for the Homeless reports that homeless LGBT youths are 25% more likely to be sexually victimized, 18% more likely to be solicited, and over twice as likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.
Many homeless youths resort to “survival sex,” in which they agree to sexual intercourse in exchange for food, shelter, drugs, or money.
The high rates of abuse and solicitation make LGBT youths particularly susceptible to drug abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, and trafficking.