Parents’ rejection of their children’s sexual orientation and gender identity is a “key trigger” in young people’s decision to leave home, which can lead to youth homelessness, new research has found.
Young LGBTQI people who participated in the research also said that they are unwilling to enter a hostel where they fear that they would encounter homophobic or transphobic “attitudes among service users and staff”.
These findings come from research published today, which was carried out by Professor Michelle Norris and Dr Aideen Quilty of University College Dublin on behalf of Focus Ireland in partnership with the national LGBTQI youth organisation BelonG To Youth Services.
“The report demonstrates that LGBTQI+ young adults face additional risks of becoming homeless due to conflict with parents and caregivers regarding sexuality and gender identify, in addition these young adults face additional barriers to accessing services when they do become homeless and building strong relationships with service providers,” said Professor Norris.
Researchers interviewed 22 young homeless people who identified as LGBTQI as well as a number of policy makers in the homeless sector.
The young people interviewed also said that they felt “self-imposed silencing and secrecy” in relation to their sexual orientation and gender identity in homelessness services, which forms a “double closet”.
“The need for information on homelessness among LGBTQI+ young people is particularly urgent in light of the rise in youth homeless in Ireland in recent years,” said Moninne Griffith, CEO of BeLonG To.
The research found that many young LGBTQI+ people without a home, tend to avoid homeless services through sofa surfing with friends and acquaintances.
“In our frontline services, we witness a significant number of LGBTQI+ youth living without a permanent home and surviving by sleeping on friends’ sofas, squatting or staying in other insecure or unsafe places. This group are even more difficult to identify and consequently are often referred to as the ‘forgotten homeless’ or ‘hidden homeless.”
In its recommendations, the report said that LGBTQI homelessness should be included in the new Youth Homelessness Strategy, as well more mediation services and training on gender issues for family mediators and other youth workers to prevent homelessness.
The report also recommended a number of measures to make homeless services more accessible, including branding for ‘LGBTQI+ friendly spaces’.
It added that the Department of Housing should establish an independent review group to look at the way that all data on homeless is collected and published and how more reliable data on LGBTQI homelessness can be collected.