US: Study finds 29% of San Francisco’s homeless population are LGBT

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A survey found that over a quarter of homeless people in San Francisco identified as LGBT, nearly twice as many as identify as such in the city overall.

For the first time, a census conducted by the San Francisco Human Services Agency asked homeless people what their sexual and gender identity was.

Of the 1,000 surveyed, 29% said they were LGBT – nearly twice the 15.4% of San Francisco residents in general, as estimated by the Williams Institute.

Mary Howe of Haight Ashbury Youth Alliances said the over-representation of LGBT people among the homeless was partly due to teens being kicked out of their homes by homophobic or transphobic family members.

“A lot of them just want to go somewhere where they’re more accepted. Most of them leave with very little, and they make communities out of who they meet on the street,” she said.

Dr Margot Kushel warned that as well as teens and young people, those aged 50 or older were also in danger. She said that many individuals in that age bracket had lost their livelihood or support network through the AIDS epidemic.

Jennifer Heidenbach of the Coalition for Homelessness warned that more specialist centres were needed to deal with LGBT homeless people.

“What we get from this is that homelessness is a queer issue,” she said. “And when we look at our system, it’s not particularly gay-friendly.”

Earlier this year Ian McKellen, a patron of the Albert Kennedy Trust, said: “Every cruel religious leader, every religious politician or bigot who says something anti-gay should be ashamed. They are turning our kids onto the street when their parents listen to the ridiculous remarks that they make.”