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American Public Health Association
133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition
December 10-14, 2005
Philadelphia, PA
APHA 2005
5119.0: Wednesday, December 14, 2005 - 1:10 PM

Abstract #109354

Sexual identity and service availability among homeless, runaway and thrownaway youth (HRTY): Findings from a national survey of HRTY service providers and clients

W. Alexander Orr, BS1, Jody M. Greene, MS2, Jennie L. Harris2, and Pamela J. Fischer, PhD3. (1) Substance Abuse Epidemiology, Prevention, and Risk Assessment, RTI International, 3040 Cornwallis Road, Hobbs 210, Research Triangle Park, NC 27514, 919-316-3474, aorr@rti.org, (2) Behavioral Health Research Division, RTI International, 3040 Cornwallis Road, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, (3) Center for Mental Health Services - Homeless Programs Branch, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, One Choke Cherry Road, Room 6-1022, Rockville, MD 20857

Public health service providers and researchers have recognized that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (GLBTQ) youth represent a substantial proportion of HRTY, with as many as 25-40% identifying as GLBTQ. These youth often bring problems and issues such as lack of family and social support, high risk for disease and victimization, and social stigma that can compound other problems associated with homelessness. In addition, some research suggests that GLBTQ youth may be at an especially high risk for mental health problems and face an elevated risk of suicide.

This presentation examines the extent to which HRTY service providers are aware of and respond to GLBTQ issues. Data are from the study “Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for Homeless, Runaway, and Thrownaway Youth” conducted in 2004. This nationally representative study included a structured survey administered to directors of 64 HRTY programs, qualitative interviews with key staff from these programs, and a structured interview with 531 HRTY served by these programs.

Approximately 25% of the youth sample self-identified as GLBTQ. Approximately 80% of the programs reportedly serve GLBTQ, but most indicated that only 1-10% of their clients are GLBTQ. Approximately one-quarter of the programs reported that they provide specialized services for GLBTQ, and 30% indicated that they frequently match GLBTQ clients to staff based on sexual orientation. Further analyses of these data by organization size, religious affiliation, and location are presented, and policy implications for improving services for HRTY GLBTQ youth are discussed.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Gay, Homelessness

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

I wish to disclose that I have NO financial interests or other relationship with the manufactures of commercial products, suppliers of commercial services or commercial supporters.

[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Health Disparities Among LGBT Populations

The 133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition (December 10-14, 2005) of APHA