High Burden of Homelessness Among Sexual-Minority Adolescents: Findings From a Representative Massachusetts High School Sample.

Published: July 21, 2011

Abstract

Objectives. We compared the prevalence of current homelessness among adolescents reporting a minority sexual orientation (lesbian/gay, bisexual, unsure, or heterosexual with same-sex sexual partners) with that among exclusively heterosexual adolescents. Methods. We combined data from the 2005 and 2007 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a representative sample of public school students in grades 9 though 12 (n=6317). Results. Approximately 25% of lesbian/gay, 15% of bisexual, and 3% of exclusively heterosexual Massachusetts public high school students were homeless. Sexual-minority males and females had an odds of reporting current homelessness that was between 4 and 13 times that of their exclusively heterosexual peers. Sexual-minority youths’ greater likelihood of being homeless was driven by their increased risk of living separately from their parents or guardians. Conclusions. Youth homelessness is linked with numerous threats such as violence, substance use, and mental health problems. Although discrimination and victimization related to minority sexual orientation status are believed to be important causal factors, research is needed to improve our understanding of the risks and protective factors for homelessness and to determine effective strategies to prevent homelessness in this population. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print July 21, 2011: e1-e7.

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