June is Pride Month in the United States. In honor of this time, learn about how LGBTQ+ youth are at increased risk of human trafficking.
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LGBTQ+ youth are disproportionately likely to experience homelessness, according to Safe and Supported, a program of Lighthouse Youth and Family Services.
Many LGBTQ+ youth grow up in supportive home environments. They and their loved ones might not see eye to eye on everything, but at the end of the day they have one another's back. Others, unfortunately, are not so lucky. They represent a population a 2018 study by the International Review of Victimology refers to as facing "exceptional vulnerability."
According to a 2016 study by the anti-trafficking organization Polaris, up to 40% of youth experiencing homeless identify as LGBTQ+. These young people either are running away from family rejection, or have been simply kicked out of the family home. Faced with fewer avenues of community support many of these young people turn to survival sex in order to obtain money, food, drugs, or a roof over their head. According to the Alliance for Children and Families this situation easily leads to conditions which meet the definition of sex trafficking: force, manipulation, or abuse. Moreover, remember that any person under the age of 18 engaged in a commercial sex act is by definition a victim of human trafficking.
Fortunately, there are organizations across the country seeking to raise awareness of this issue and help these young people. Safe and Supported is one such group, based in Cincinnati. Covenant House is another one, based in New York City. Click the button above to read Covenant House's five facts about the trafficking of LGBTQ+ youth, from risk factors to how to prevent it. Don't forget to share what you learn on social media and with your friends.
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