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Acceptance and love are needed for LGBTQ youth

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Acceptance and love are needed for LGBTQ youth

Acceptance and love are needed for LGBTQ youth

Acceptance and love are needed for young LGBTQ people – What if you don’t have a place to sleep tonight? Let’s say your family kicked you out because they don’t agree with your “lifestyle”, you stayed too many nights in a row at a friend’s house and you don’t have enough money. money for a room nowhere. It’s getting cold, you’re a little hungry, how are you going to survive the night? And the next night? And the next ?

For too many young LGBTQ+ people in the United States, these questions are real, right now, tonight, tomorrow night and the next. Indeed,  research shows that 40% of homeless youth in this country identify as LGBTQ+.

June is National Pride Month in the United States – a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and recognize those who have fought for equal rights for gender and sexual minorities. This is extremely valuable, but as June draws to a close, it is also important to remember that legal rights do not go very far and that for many people, especially children and young people, the social consequences  of identification as LGBTQ+ are always devastating.

Research shows that 40% of homeless youth in the United States identify as LGBTQ+. Ninety-one percent of those young people in similar situations in another study said they had been approached by someone offering them a way to earn an income that was too good to be true – a sign of trafficking.

It is not a coincidence. Traffickers target runaway and homeless youth. They hang around bus stations, train stations and shopping malls, looking for minors who seem lost or alone. They present themselves as romantic partners or parental figures, showing interest in the person’s history and trauma, showering them with attention and expensive gifts, and presenting themselves as one of the few people in the life of the person who accepts it with their true sexuality or gender.

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For the young, it is deeply difficult to reject both the material support – food, clothing and shelter – that these predators provide, and equally difficult to see through the pose of providing a family structure to replace the one who rejected them. – often complete with siblings in the same situation as them. All they have to do is earn a living. All they have to do is bring money for the family. All they have to do is recruit new family members. All they have to do is please their tutor and do whatever they say.

While sex trafficking is prevalent, an  increasingly common trend in LGBTQ+ trafficking cases is that traffickers force or coerce victims into engaging in illicit activities such as participating in illegal drug trafficking.  This is the most common type of labor trafficking among homeless youth, as young people are less likely to be implicated by the police. Traffickers often introduce drug use or manipulate existing drug use among their victims in order to coerce victims into continuing to work for them. Not only does this involvement in illicit activities act as a form of coercion in the situation, but also as a barrier for young people who seek help because they do not feel safe to go to the police or a social worker.

Understanding the problem and working with service providers focused on this population is a key step in mitigating the problem. The field should train staff on how to identify destructive behaviors they observe or their involvement in unusual activities as symptoms of exploitation, not criminality. The social services field as a whole must create a safety net for young people who experience rejection, homelessness and abuse.

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Better yet, stop these young people from feeling the pain in the first place and seek support outside of their homes because they are not getting what they need from within. The acceptance, unconditional love and constant support of someone coming out as LGBTQ+ is ultimately the most important factor in ensuring their safety.

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