Of the most common reasons for youth homelessness of LGBTQia identified youth, family rejection is thought to be the most prevalent.  As you may have read in the data and stats page, we simply don't have ironclad numbers.  What we do know is that LGBTQia youth make up a higher percentage of youth experiencing homelessness, 40% nationwide than their estimated population (5-10%). 

Family rejection of LGBTQia youth resulting in homelessness is most often due to a conflict between the religious and culturally reinforced beliefs of the parents or guardians.  Some parents are even instructed by their religious leaders to  eject the child from the family home so that the child is not a "bad influence" on other children in the family.  Youth report hearing:  "Pack your things and get out, only come back when you've straightened up."  These youth then take their crammed-full backpack or battered suitcase and hit the streets.  Sometimes youth find their way to help, sometimes there is a friendly family to take them in.  Sometimes they meet another youth experiencing homelessness that gives them a place to sleep. Some disappear. Within 48 youth virtually everyone has had contact with a sex trafficker.

Best practice direct prevention programming consists of the amazing Family Acceptance Project.  Their booklets, films and studies get right to the heart of what parents can do to help ensure good outcomes for their child.  We have found that these materials work best when a peer - another parent from a similar cultural background - can view a film, look through a booklet, and talk about worries, hopes and fears.  In some areas family reconciliation teams are available to work with families professionally, to address points of conflict and misunderstanding, and to explore other options for family housing of youth.  There aren't many programs yet in the United States of this type, but a promising model is Point Source Youth, which has as its model Depaul UK Family Reconnection.

Another part of preventing LGBTQia youth homelessness is changing the culture.  In areas where it is culturally appropriate to discriminate and exclude LGBTQ persons, parents are more comfortable rejecting their LGBT identified child.  As the laws in the United States change to reduce discrimination, a corresponding backlash can also be seen, with a "doubling down" of anti-pLGBT rhetoric that puts children at risk.  Cultural competency education can help (see The Safe Zone Project for an example), as well as active PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) chapters, GSAs (Gay, Straight Alliances) in schools, active and visible accepting church congregations and groups and LGBT youth programs - to name a few.  Efforts in communities to show that LGBT persons are there, supported and respected can make a huge difference.  Is there something in your community?  Find out and support it with your knowledge, time and talent.  Nothing in your community? Ah!  You can be the one to get something going - and we can help.