LGBTQ Youths Fall Prey to Human Trafficking
Despite the LGBTQ community’s successes toward marriage equality, many continue to face struggles, such as societal discrimination. Currently, 29 states allow employees to be fired for being homosexuals. Hate crimes are still present in several cities, and when compared to their straight counterparts, LGBTQ youths are more at risk of being bullied by their peers, shunned in their communities or become victims of child sex trafficking.
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Of the thousands of young people who become homeless each year, the LGBTQ youth account for up to 40 percent of the population of runaways and homeless youths, although LGBTQ individuals only account for three to five percent of the population. An estimated 26 percent of LGBTQ adolescents are alienated by their families and forced out of their homes for being open about their identities. While on the streets, they are faced with the possibility of becoming victims of human trafficking. Youths in this situation experience beatings, mutilations, brandings, rapes, and a host of other inhumane crimes.
A perfect example is the story of Sam, whose father threw him out of the house when he found out Sam was gay. Sam made his way to Boy’s Town, a gay community in Chicago, where he was sedated by a pimp who snuck up behind him. He woke up to his pimp abusing him and forcing him to ingest cocaine, then trafficking him into prostitution in Chicago and Michigan. He escaped his first pimp, but responded to an escort service ad in order to support himself, which later led to more victimization from another pimp.
The Administration for Children and Families is working on recovery services for LGBTQ victims of sexual exploitation, such as the Family and Youth Services Bureau’s (FYSB) Runaway and Homeless Youth Program, and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program. [ACF]