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Homeless LGBTQ youth at special risk
State officials are implementing services to protect LGBTQ youth

In The Region:

Among homeless kids and teens, LGBTQ - Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning youth have an especially hard time.

For Ohio Public Radio, WVXU's Tana Weingartner has more on how Ohio is trying to help by piloting a national program.

Weingartner on homeless LGBTQ youth

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Lighthouse Youth Services in Cincinnati is among a handful of groups trying to identify and address issues that specifically affect homeless LGBTQ youth. Planning and Policy Director Meredith Hicks says that population is over-represented among all homeless kids and young adults. Along with Houston, Texas, the Cincinnati region is testing a national pilot program.

“We’re going to rely on our entire community to help implement this,” says Hicks. “And really think through in our own organizations and our own agencies, what can we do to better support LGBTQ youth and prevent them from becoming homeless and also, how does that impact all young people? So supporting services for these youth impacts our support for young people across the board.”

Hicks says the plan is to wrap up the discussion phase by September 30 and begin implementation right away. The National LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Initiative was developed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and several other agencies.

Hicks says the LGBTQ population is over-represented among homeless youth and it’s hard to get a handle on any true numbers because some young people who ask for help won’t disclose such personal information, and other homeless LGBTQ youth are reluctant to seek services at all. 

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