Identifying and Serving LGBTQ Youth: Case Studies of Runaway and Homeless Youth Program Grantees. C. Themes in Study Findings

02/14/2014

The case studies suggest that approaches to identifying and serving LGBTQ youth are likely to range widely among RHY providers. Key themes in study findings include the following:

  • Among practitioners we interviewed, there did not appear to be general agreement on the need or approaches for collecting and using information on clients’ sexual orientation and gender identity. Recommendations for collecting these data while respecting youths’ privacy and additional information on the potential uses of the data could help providers take steps to better understand the LGBTQ RHY population.
  • Staff perceive that LGBTQ youth generally face risk factors similar to those of non-LGBTQ youth but also note that the frequency of these risks and circumstances contributing to them may differ for the two populations. In addition, transgender youth and LGBTQ youth of color may face distinctive patterns of risk. These issues could be explored further through future research.
  • Some recommended steps for serving LGBTQ RHY may be implemented more readily than others. For instance, adopting policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity may be relatively easy for agencies to accomplish, but establishing safer and more welcoming environments, increasing cultural competency among staff, and linking LGBTQ youth to appropriate services may require more sustained effort. In addition, some practitioners appear to be uncertain about the appropriateness of targeting a specific subpopulation of RHY by tailoring services or developing programs especially for them. As agencies are encouraged to address the needs of LGBTQ RHY, providers may benefit from support for implementing practices that have been recommended to promote positive outcomes among these youth.

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