Homeless LGBTQ Youth Face Greater Health Risks in Monterey County
Homeless teenagers and young adults in Monterey County who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or who question their sexuality -- also known as LGBTQ -- have an increased risk of mental health problems, sexual exploitation and suicide, according to a survey conducted by the county, the HealthyCal reports.
LGBTQ teens and young adults make up 20% of the homeless population in the county.
Details of Survey
The survey was conducted by the not-for-profit Applied Survey Research as part of the county's annual homeless census.
It found that more than 40% of the total homeless population in the county said they were unable to obtain needed health care services.
Researchers found that homelessness increases certain health risks, including:
- Improper nutrition;
- Mental health problems;
- Sexual abuse;
- Suicide; and
- Drug and alcohol misuse.
Robin McCrae -- executive director for the county's Community Human Services -- said, "It's even harder when you're young" because such individuals might not know how to access social services or that they qualify for food stamps and other assistance programs.
Researchers indicated that LGBTQ teens and young adults are more likely to become homeless and face greater health risks because of various stressors, including:
- Family rejection;
- Bullying and discrimination; and
- Fear of bullying and discrimination.
Nan Roman -- president of National Alliance to End Homelessness -- suggested that the actual number of LGBTQ teens and young adults in the county who experience mental health problems likely is higher than the survey shows. "I bet a lot of kids didn't answer completely" about their sexual orientation, Roman said.
She cited family rejection of LGBTQ teens and young adults as a major cause of increased homelessness and health problems.
Roman said, "Kids who are rejected by their families are more likely to use drugs. They have more mental health problems and are at higher risk of risky sexual behavior" (Griffy, HealthyCal, 8/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.