Fighting Homelessness for Kentucky’s LGBT Youth

Claire (She/Her)
BCTK 2021 Summer Intern

Kentucky’s queer youth often face rejection from their loved ones in the coming out
process, but how often do we really understand the consequences of such rejection? Nationwide, only 5% of youth self-identify as being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, but they make up approximately 25% of the homeless youth population in Louisville. 1 This difference is profound and one that cannot be ignored.

According to True Colors United, a national organization dedicated to helping queer
youth in need, there may be multiple reasons for homelessness. These reasons include family issues at home, abusive living situations, being forced out of the foster care system, or lack of affordable housing. 2 No matter the reason, it usually relates to conflicts over sexual orientation or gender identity. As a result of family rejection and isolation as well as being forced out onto the streets, many of these youths turn to crime out of necessity. Without any support, they are forced to survive in their own ways, which often means they are at a greater risk for substance abuse and entering the criminal justice system labeled as runaways. 5 Without any support and resources provided for our queer youth, their ability to survive and thrive is limited.

After acknowledging the reality of queer youth being rejected from society to the point of
being forced onto the streets, what can we do to help? Kentucky has countless organizations across the state that are dedicated to offering support and safe spaces for our homeless queer population. Arbor Youth Services (Lexington, KY) is one of which provides emergency shelter with a safe place to sleep, food, clothing, and crisis counseling for homeless youth or those who are in crisis. 3 The Kentucky Youth Law Project is another organization that focuses more on providing free legal assistance to Kentucky’s LGBTQ+ youth who may otherwise not be able to have access to that legal aid. 4

Ban Conversion Therapy Kentucky is another organization that offers advocacy for Kentucky’s youth, fighting against the torture of sexual orientation change efforts. There are dozens of organizations focused on helping Kentucky’s LGBT youth in crisis, and they are
always in need of more volunteers and donations from local Kentuckians. If we care about our kids, then we must step up to fight the stigma against LGBT youth and protect them from ending up on the streets of Kentucky.

1. Queer Kentucky. “How You Can Help Support Louisville’s Homeless Youth LGBTQ+ Population? Hint: Drink Up.” Queer Kentucky, June 12, 2019.
2. “Our Issue.” True Colors United, March 1, 2019.
3. “Our Services.” Arbor Youth Services. Accessed July 7, 2021.
4. “Support.” Kentucky Youth Law Project, Inc. Accessed July 7, 2021.
5. Whitbeck LB;Chen X;Hoyt DR;Tyler KA;Johnson KD; “Mental Disorder, Subsistence Strategies, and Victimization among Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Homeless and Runaway Adolescents.” Journal of sex research. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Accessed July 7, 2021.