Identifying and Serving LGBTQ Youth: Case Studies of Runaway and Homeless Youth Program Grantees. Issues for Policymakers and Practitioners


The case study findings point to four issues related to serving LGBTQ RHY for policymakers and practitioners to consider:

  1. Ensuring consistency and accuracy in data collection. To improve the consistency and accuracy of administrative data on these topics, it may be beneficial to offer providers guidance on preferred content for questions about sexual orientation and gender identity and recommended methods for asking them. Providers also may need to consider whether different processes might be used to collect data for administrative purposes (for example, to understand the demographics of an agency’s clientele overall) and for guiding service provision. Collecting administrative data anonymously (for example, through an online questionnaire) would allow an agency to gather data on the number of youth who identify as LGBTQ without asking youth to disclose the information to a staff member during an initial intake session or assessment. To help staff plan services appropriately, they could record in individual case files any information gathered later about a youth’s LGBTQ status.
  2. Management and analysis of data on LGBTQ identity. In addition to standardized practices for asking questions on sexual orientation and gender identity, guidance on when this information should be recorded in case records, as well as on when and to whom it should be disclosed, may benefit agencies. Programs might also benefit from information on how analyzing data by demographic characteristics might be used for assessing service delivery, and from assistance to build capacity for internal data management and analysis.
  3. Technical assistance for agencies whose service areas lack extensive LGBTQ resources. Offering technical assistance or training on LGBTQ issues regularly and making it easily accessible via online participation would help agencies in areas without access to local LGBTQ resources. Another option would be to create opportunities for RHY providers to share information on strategies for serving LGBTQ RHY, perhaps by creating an online repository for documents on best practices.
  4. Developing and evaluating interventions targeting LGBTQ youth. RHY providers will likely benefit from specification, dissemination, and evaluation of models for serving LGBTQ youth effectively. Evaluations of program models targeting LGBTQ RHY might explore whether the models are most effective when offered as separate program components or as modifications to services available to RHY in general. Studies might also address the effectiveness of tailoring specific types of services, such as family reunification support or individual counseling, to the particular needs and circumstances of LGBTQ RHY.

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