Georgia State study: Atlanta homeless LGBT youth numbers higher than previously reported
A new report released on May 3 shows that Atlanta’s LGBT homeless youth problem is worse than once thought. The Georgia State study showed that over 950, or 28.2 percent, of the 3,374 homeless and runaway youth they surveyed in the metro Atlanta area self-identify as LGBT. That’s a 27 percent increase over a previously reported estimate of 750 LGBT homeless youth in the area.
The new findings come from Georgia State University’s 2015 Atlanta Youth Count and Needs Assessment (AYCNA), which took place from May through July of last year and involved 50 Georgia State and Emory University students scouring the metro Atlanta area to count homeless youth between the ages of 14 and 25.
“Certainly the fact that well over one-infour homeless youth identify as LGBT, the 6.5 percent that identify as transgender, all of those sadly reinforce what we have known anecdotally for a really long time—that homelessness among young LGBT people is something we really need to focus on,” said Georgia Equality executive director Jeff Graham, who was in attendance at the press conference.
The study team was led by Dr. Eric Wright, Professor of Sociology at Georgia State, who is also a Georgia Equality board member. Wright said that the genesis of the idea for the study came after he became a member of the Atlanta Coalition of LGBTQ Youth (ACFLY), a program of Georgia Equality led by Emily Brown, who was also in attendance at the press conference. Brown told Georgia Voice that the issue of homeless youth came up often in their meetings.
“I look at this as Georgia State responding directly to the community’s need for data on an issue that we need resources on,” she says.
Graham says they plan on incorporating the new data into Georgia Equality’s work on HIV, youth engagement and transgender issues and making it a priority in future policy agendas now that they have data they can push policymakers on.
‘We’ll have to step it up even more’
Rick Westbrook, executive director of Lost-n-Found Youth, was present at the press conference announcing Atlanta’s homeless LGBT youth population. (File photo)