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LGBT and African American homeless youth at huge risk of human trafficking, according to study

Lily Wakefield October 22, 2019
LGBT+ homeless youth human trafficking

LGBT+ homeless youth are at greater risk of becoming victims of human trafficking that their non-LGBT+ counterparts. (Envato)

More than half of homeless young people in Atlanta, Georgia, have been victims of human trafficking and LGBT+ and African American youth are most at risk, according to a new study.

The Atlanta Youth Count 2018 study by Georgia State University sociology professor Eric Wright found that there were an estimated 3,372 homeless young people in Atlanta between the ages of 14 and 25.

Human trafficking is defined in the report as “acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them either for sexual acts or labour services”.

Overall, 54 per cent of homeless youth had experienced some form of human trafficking in their lifetime, and 37 per cent had experienced it since becoming homeless.

African American, black and multiracial young people were at high risk of trafficking, as 56 per cent of homeless youth counted in the study were black or African American and 32 per cent were multiracial.

Looking just at LGB youth, these numbers increased. 61 per cent of lesbian, gay or bisexual homeless youth had experienced human trafficking in their lifetime and 44 per cent had been trafficked while homeless.

For trans and non-binary young people experiencing homelessness the figures jumped even more dramatically.

71 per cent had experienced trafficking during their lifetimes, and 65 per cent had been victims of it while homeless.

The report said cisgender young women are often seen as the main targets, but that is not the case.

The report states that LGBT+ homeless youth “require special attention in the provision of safe and secure services”, and that “gendered definitions of trafficking need to be expanded”.

It continues: “While cisgender female individuals are often conceptualised as the main targets of trafficking vulnerabilities, transgender respondents report significantly higher rates of trafficking than their cisgender counterparts (including both male and female cisgender respondents).

“The full spectrum of gender identity must be understood and accepted in order to fully serve transgender youth and effectively address the needs of trafficked youth.”

Of those surveyed between September and November 2018, seven per cent were trans or non-binary and 24 per cent identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual. Four per cent identified as an orientation other than LGB or straight.

This month, Tyler Perry said his new film studio will include a shelter for homeless LGBT+ young people and other marginalised groups.

More: african american, homeless youth, homelessness, human trafficking, LGBT

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