Identifying and Serving LGBTQ Youth: Case Studies of Runaway and Homeless Youth Program Grantees. C. Service and Resource Barriers Affecting LGBTQ Youth


To enhance protective factors for RHY, agency staff attempt to provide or link youth with services that address identified needs and mitigate risks. Staff in case study agencies noted that some LGBTQ youth face barriers in accessing services or opportunities that may be important for achieving positive outcomes. Staff commonly mentioned barriers to two resources in particular:

  1. Health care. Staff noted that LGBTQ youth face challenges accessing care to address their unique health needs. Youth may find it difficult to locate health care providers who are knowledgeable about LGBTQ issues and prepared to discuss the particular risks LGBTQ youth face. Transgender RHY seeking assistance with gender transition may be unable to access this type of care. Staff in three of the four sites visited indicated that they face challenges trying to locate health care providers with expertise serving transgender people in their area.
  2. Employment. Staff also reported that LGBTQ RHY tend to encounter distinct obstacles to employment. Employers are not always accepting of LBGTQ youth, especially those whose gender expression does not conform to societal expectations. LGBTQ youth, and transgender youth in particular, may also experience harassment from fellow workers, decreasing their motivation to maintain employment.

Some agencies take steps to mitigate these barriers as they provide services to LGBTQ RHY. We describe these efforts in Chapter IV.

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