Moving from At-Risk to At-Potential

written by naehblog
June 8, 2012

Best Practices and Policies for LGBTQ Youth Experiencing Homelessness

Many recommended best policies and practices have been developed for housing and serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. How many check marks would your organization earn for implementing the following policies and practices to increase LGBTQ youth’s potential for increased success?

  • Create a welcoming environment where non-discrimination and non-harassment policies are implemented and communicated to all youth, families, and community partners;
  •  Place youth in safe and appropriate shelter and housing programs based upon both their gender identity and an individualized assessment;
  •  Make cultural competency training available and mandatory for all employees to ensure that a welcoming and inclusive environment is created;
  •  Deliver family intervention services that increase family acceptance of their child’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity to decrease youth’s risky behavior;
  • Partner with LGBT and/or transgender specific organizations in your community to better provide services and referrals to youth and their families, and participate in coalitions to make other programs aware of services for LGBT youth;
  • Improve targeting and outreach for LGBT youth by tailoring street outreach efforts to locales where transgender youth congregate;
  • Collect and manage confidential information during the intake process to inform programmatic and policy responses, and to ensure that staff do not violate a youth’s privacy;
  • Provide or make available supportive healthcare services that meet the unique health needs of  transgender youth to improve their access to proper health care.

Many policies and practices that are effective for preventing and ending youth homelessness, such as targeting and outreach, family intervention services, housing, and supportive services, are the same for LGBTQ youth. Specific adjustments related to a youth’s sexual orientation and gender identity, however, are necessary to address the challenges these youth face and to ensure that homeless LGBTQ youth have a real, meaningful opportunity to leave homelessness behind.