November 18, 2022
According to The Williams Institute, approximately 1.6 million people identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or intersex (LGBTQIA+) in the United States. Of this population, it is estimated that between 230,000 and 450,000 are homeless. This means that LGBT individuals are anywhere from 120% to 200% more likely to experience homelessness than their cisgender heterosexual counterparts. So why are members of the LGBTQIA+ community more likely to be homeless?
The high rate of homelessness among LGBTQIA+ individuals is often attributed to family rejection. According to a study by the Williams Institute, 26% of LGBT adults reported being kicked out of their homes by their parents or guardians because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This number jumps to 40% for LGBT youth.
Without a safe place to call home, many LGBT individuals are forced to turn to survival sex work—exchanging sexual favors for food, shelter, or money—to make ends meet. This puts them at greater risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and other STDs, as well as experiencing violence and abuse.
Drug use is also common among the homeless LGBT population. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, anywhere from 25% to 50% of homeless LGBT individuals have engaged in illegal drug activity to cope with the difficulties of life on the streets. This puts them at greater risk for overdose and other health problems associated with drug use.
The high rate of homelessness among LGBTQIA+ individuals is a major problem that often leads them into a cycle of sex work and drug use. By experiencing family rejection, this already vulnerable population is at an even greater risk for health issues like HIV/AIDS and other STDs, violence, and abuse. If we want to make a difference in their lives, then we need to do more to prevent families from rejecting them and provide safe spaces for them instead.