Over half of LGBTQ+ young people faced discrimination or harassment accessing services

New research on the voices and experiences of LGBTQ+ young people who have faced homelessness in the last five years found accessing support services ‘not welcoming’ and ‘re-traumatising’.

15/04/21

Over half of LGBTQ+ young people faced discrimination or harassment accessing services

New research has found that nearly six in ten (59%) LGBTQ+ young people have faced some form of discrimination or harassment while accessing support services.

The LGBTQ+ youth homelessness report, based on surveys conducted by YouGov for the Albert Kennedy Trust (AKT), spoke to young people about familial abuse and rejection, discrimination in services, the impact of homelessness and their recommendations for making services more inclusive.

The findings highlighted stark discoveries for LGBTQ+ young people accessing services, with less than half (44%) of respondents saying they were aware of housing support services, and almost one quarter (24%) saying they were not aware of any support services available to them.

Lucy Bowyer, AKT’s Director of Services, said there was variation in the quality of homelessness services offered to LGBTQ+ young people.

“We've seen young people going back in the closet and feeling they have to go home, stay home and that they can't express themselves,” Bowyer said, adding: “Then people trying to access support have found it not welcoming and that has re-traumatised them."

Respondents in the report said their sexuality caused problems for them accessing services, including homophobia from landlords and other homeless people, and forms not taking into consideration their sexuality.

“My default is putting on a straight persona when accessing help,” one respondent said, adding that it is “exhausting”.

Only 35 per cent of respondents who accessed services recalling being asked by service providers to provide information about their gender identity and sexual orientation.

Furthermore, just one third felt safe to disclose information about their gender identity and sexual orientation.

However, over half (56%) of LGBTQ+ young people who accessed housing support services while homeless said they were satisfied with their experience.

Despite this, two thirds (63%) of LGBTQ+ young people want to see services offer more individualised, face to face support, and half want to see services use more inclusive language which recognises their identity.

As a result of the findings, AKT is asking councils to conduct an audit to identify why so many LGBTQ+ young people don’t turn to their local authority for support when facing homelessness.

They hope this will address potential issues around gatekeeping and gather research and insight from charities and other relevant service providers.

AKT is also asking local authorities to ensure that cases where LGBTQ+ young people (particularly those who are gender diverse, trans and non-binary) have experienced domestic abuse are accurately recorded in internal case management software and Homelessness Case Level Collection Data, to help improve services for future users.

To read the full report and its recommendations visit: akt.org.uk/report

The full report is based on a survey of 161 LGBTQ+ young people who had experienced any form of homelessness in the last five years in the UK, while between the ages of 16 and 25.

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