Youth Homelessness

496 Words2 Pages
The problem of youth homelessness is especially severe for LGBT-identifying youth, who face homelessness at disproportionately high rates relative to their population percentage; LGBT youth make up 20-40% of youth homelessness in the US, while only about 5% of people in the US identify on the LGBT spectrum (Judge, 2015).
The first step to understanding this problem is to understand the legal mechanisms that allow this broad discrimination to take place in the US. The fact that minors in the United States do not have all the rights adults have allows their parents to have total control over their lives; harm can occur if, in most cases of LGBT youth homelessness, the parents don’t have the best interests of their child in mind. Although the
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There are four major areas of state responses to youth homelessness issues: state criminal statutes, federal statutes and legislation, state assumption of responsibility, and emancipation. The state responses with regard to criminal statutes to list child neglect and abandonment as felonies, but parents are unlikely to report themselves and homeless youth are often afraid (rightfully so) to report their parents because they could be sent back to an abusive home. Federal responses have been largely more beneficial than those at the state level; the passing of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act in 1977 provided new services to homeless youth and acknowledged that, in many cases, their leaving home was not a choice. When the state assumes responsibility for the homeless child, problems can arise as well; many programs seek to reunify the child with their parents, which is often not the best option. Studies suggest that the alternative, living in group homes and shelters, is often more dangerous than living on the street. The other option, foster care, often runs into problems as well, because LGBT youth are usually older than their straight counterparts, which makes finding an accepting placement more difficult. The last major response governmental bodies have taken in the past to help LGBT homeless youth in emancipation - absolving the parents of any financial or legal responsibility to their child. This option can be very helpful in some cases, because it gives the child in question more autonomy to own property, consent to medical care, etc. However, it can also be very problematic because it leaves the child with little to no support system, placing the financial burden on their young and inexperienced shoulders. These varying methodologies of homelessness remediation do offer
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