Roughly a Fourth of Gay Teens are Homeless

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Roughly 25 percent of gay and lesbian teenagers are homeless.

Compare that with only 3 percent of heterosexual teens, and you get the bleak picture painted by a study coming out of Children's Hospital in Boston.

A press released reports researchers studied more than 6,300 high school students. Not only were homosexual students dramatically more likely to be homeless, but a lot of them (homeless or not) were simply on their own with no parents or guardians.

The study was published online July 21 by the American Journal of Public Health and is the first to measure the risk of homelessness among teens of different sexual orientations.

"Prior studies in homeless street youth have found that sexual minorities occur in much higher numbers than we'd expect based on their numbers in the community in general," lead researcher Heather Corliss of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Children's Hospital, says in the release. "This study looked at the magnitude of the difference for the first time."

Corliss adds the study will hopefully will raise awareness of the vulnerability of gay and lesbian teenagers to homelessness. She particularly hopes school administrators and other professionals will take heed.

"Teens with a sexual minority orientation are more likely than heterosexual teens to be unaccompanied and homeless rather than part of a homeless family," Corliss says in the release. "This suggests that they may be more likely to be mistreated or rejected by their families and more likely to leave home.

"The high risk of homelessness among sexual minority teens is a serious problem requiring immediate attention," she adds. "These teens face enormous risks and all types of obstacles to succeeding in school and are in need of a great deal of assistance."

A list of national resources for teens and youth can be found on the websites of the Center for Young Women's Health and the Center for Young Men's Health.

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