A Longitudinal Investigation of Risk and Resiliency among Homeless LGBT Youth Residing in a Transitional Living Shelter

Nicholas Robertson Forge, Fordham University


Although up to 40% of homeless youth identify as a sexual minority, there is little research on homeless LGBT youth residing in Transitional Living Programs (TLPs). The aim of this exploratory study was to describe LGBT youth residing in a TLP, including the reasons for exit from home of origin, abuse and victimization, sexual risk behaviors, physical and mental health, suicidal ideation and attempts, substance use, and resilience. This was a secondary data analysis of a longitudinal design. The study population was a TLP exclusively for LGBT homeless youth age 18-24 in New York City. All eligible residents were selected. The sample size was 30. The response rate was 82%. At one month, 27 participants remained in the study, and at three month measure 16 participants remained. Attrition from the study was due to discharge, or exit, from the program. Data were obtained from the program intake form, monthly client progress reports, and a monthly interview. The sample was racially heterogeneous, the majority was male, and there were only two lesbians. The majority of respondents had left their home of origin by choice (n=16), had experienced verbal (n=25) and physical (n=20) abuse by a parent, and reported a clinically significant depression (n=17) and anxiety (n=10). The number of sexual partners, incidence of sex work, substance use, and suicidal ideation and attempts was very low while in the program. Risky sexual behaviors were reported, including prior sex work (n=17), and not consistently using condoms or other barriers when having sex with someone they just met (n=13) or while drunk or high (n=9). Most had been tested for HIV (n=27) and many had been tested for hepatitis C (n=23). Levels of social support and self-efficacy were moderate when measured at intake, but decreased at one month measure (p<.001). Gay males reported slightly higher self-efficacy at one month measure compared to lesbian, bisexual, and queer participants (p=.02). This exploratory study demonstrates that this population is willing to engage in longitudinal research and found the study measures acceptable. Future studies should include larger samples of LGBT youth residing in TLPs and should examine the effectiveness of different program components so that evidence-supported interventions can be developed for this underserved population.

Subject Area

Social work|GLBT Studies|Public policy

Recommended Citation

Forge, Nicholas Robertson, "A Longitudinal Investigation of Risk and Resiliency among Homeless LGBT Youth Residing in a Transitional Living Shelter" (2012). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3544984.