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National Homeless LGBT Youth Study Findings Similar to CUIR Local Study

A national report published July 12, 2012 by The Palette Fund, True Colors Fund, and the Williams Institute shows that nearly all homeless youth service providers serve LGBT youth and a majority of those services are available to all young people. These findings are similar to a pilot study conducted by UWM CUIR for the Cream City Foundation regarding homeless services in Milwaukee. The national study also found that 68% of homeless LGBT youth cited family rejection as a major contributing factor to their homelessness.

While the vast majority of homeless-serving agencies in Milwaukee do not ask about sexual orientation or gender identity, these questions were piloted through the UWM CUIR study sponsored by the Cream City Foundation in 2009. Although the sample size in the CUIR pilot was small and cannot be generalized beyond the agencies involved, results provide insights into areas for further study. Major findings can be found in the presentation, but highlights include:

  • LGBT youth were more than twice as likely as non-LGBT youth to have had two or more living arrangements in the past 6 months (58% compared to 22% for non-LGBT youth).
  • LGBT youth were seven times more likely to have lived with someone they did not know well (21% compared to 3% for non-LGBT youth).
  • 60% of LGBT youth had been homeless for two or more years, compared with 20% of non-LGBT youth.
  • LGBT youth more often reported being victims of crime, issues with alcohol or drug abuse, mental health issues, and domestic abuse/violence.

CUIR researchers concluded that the largest challenge in Milwaukee is that most agencies currently do not ask about the sexual orientation or gender identity of their clients. The few agencies that routinely ask insisted that, given the much higher risk factors associated with being an LGBT youth and homeless, the information is essential to planning effective support services and providing appropriate referrals.