In our work preventing child trafficking, we look at situations in a child’s life that either protect them, or put them at risk. Here are just a few examples:
For too many LGBTQ+ youth, these vulnerabilities are increased and protections are decreased, which can lead to a domino effect that can put them at higher risk for trafficking and exploitation.
For the vast majority of youth who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, etc… (LGBTQ+), the systems setup to protect and build resilience – family, laws, religion, peers groups… — can be stigmatizing and ostracizing, making children feel shame rather than pride. Because of these responses from family, community, and society, LGBTQ+ youth end up disproportionately harmed by issues like homelessness, suicide, and human trafficking.
What happens when children feel rejection rather than pride?
When families and communities reject youth, outcomes can be devastating. LGBTQ+ youth who come from families who reject them are 8.4 times more likely to have attempted suicide than their LGBTQ+ peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection. Family rejection also leads to LGBTQ+ youth being overrepresented in the homeless youth population: 20-40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ+. Homelessness is a big risk factor for trafficking. And once homeless, they’re even more likely to be victimized in trafficking. In one study,
29% of LGBTQ+ youth that were homeless were victims of human trafficking
17% of straight youth that were homeless were victims of human trafficking.
Let that sink in.
Additionally, because of the fear and reality of discrimination, LGBTQ+ who are trafficked are less likely to seek help. When they do seek help, LGBTQ+ youth are under-identified and go unsupported too often because providers lack training and intentionality.
LGBTQ+ youth are often less likely to be understood as victims because people wrongly assume that they were simply exploring their sexuality, or dismiss or blame them for they’re exploitation, often confusing their gender or sexual orientation with their victimization.
Finally, providers, messaging, and research often collects and presents information for a gender binary of “boys and girls,” and services are often built around the needs of cisgendered white girls.
We need to do better.
RELATED TO SUPPORTING LGBTQ+ YOUTH, YOUR DONATIONS TO LOVE146…
- Ensures survivors are served by providers who send survivors a clear message: nothing about your gender or sexual orientation means your victimization was your fault or is okay.
- Provides youth a safe space to be authentic and process potential feelings of rejection.
- Helps trans survivors learn about where the law does and does not protect their rights, and navigate available employment options, knowing income is critical to prevent exploitation.
- Reaches youth with a trafficking prevention education curriculum, Not a Number, that’s designed for applicability across gender and sexual orientation, and was piloted with LGBTQ+ youth at the Montrose Center in Houston, incorporating their feedback.
In a world that has not always been kind to the LGBTQ+ community, know you are deserving of safety, acceptance, and love.
Where can you learn more about LGBTQ+ supports?
Here are just a few organizations and resources to look into:
- The Trevor Project – 1-866-488-7386
The Trevor Project helps LGBTQ+ youth through crisis and suicidal thoughts. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or having thoughts of suicide, you can call, text, or chat with them online 24/7.
- National Center for Transgender Equality: Know Your Rights
A thorough and up-to-date resource on transgender people’s rights, and state-by-state instructions on getting help if you face discrimination.
PFLAG is the United States’ first and largest organization uniting parents, families, and allies with people who are LGBTQ+.
- LGBT National Help Center – 1-800-246-7743
Talk about issues like your identity, coming out, bullying, isolation, family issues and more.