A study of teenagers in the US state of Massachusetts suggests that one in four are homeless.

The study, carried out by the Children’s Hospital Boston, looked at the sexual orientation and home status of 6,317 teenagers from data in the 2005 and 2007 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behaviour Surveys.

Researchers found that while less than five per cent identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual, they accounted for 19 per cent of all those who were defined as homeless.

Homelessness was defined as having no fixed, regular, adequate place to sleep at night.

Just 3.2 per cent of exclusively heterosexual students were defined as homeless, compared to 15 per cent of bisexual students and 25 per cent of lesbian and gay students.

Twenty per cent of students who said they were unsure of their sexual orientation were defined as homeless.

Study lead author Heather Corliss said: “The high risk of homelessness among sexual minority teens is a serious problem requiring immediate attention.

“These teens face enormous risks and all types of obstacles to succeeding in school and are in need of a great deal of assistance.”