A survey of providers who work with young gay, bisexual, and transgender males of color in Los Angeles shows that many of them say they face racial and gender discrimination at school, gang violence, bullying, and conflicts with family members, as well as limited role models and other resources. Those problems lead to homelessness, and an unwillingness to come out to peers.
The findings of the survey, published by UCLA's Williams Institute this week, urges organizations and resource centers to hire LGBT staff, and for LGBT organizations to find ways to engage with neighborhoods predominantly occupied by low-income communities of color.
"There's tons of places that take youth, but making sure they're gay-friendly and safe… I think that's still the biggest challenge," said Tamara, an LGBT outreach coordinator who took part in the survey. "I've had youth refuse to go to certain places because they felt it wasn't safe for them."
The study also showed that when gay, bisexual, and transgender young men of color come out in school, they can often seek the refuge of places like arts or drama clubs, but those resources don't provide a one-size-fits-all solution for all gay kids.
“GBTQ youth of color struggle with homelessness, poverty, family rejection and bullying,” said Ilan H. Meyer, the study’s principal investigator and Williams Institute Senior Scholar for Public Policy. “Yet, serious barriers exist to providing youth with culturally competent care.”
As Joshua, a program coordinator who participated in the study, supposes, "Let's say you're an out student who comes across as a gay male and you want to try out for the basketball team. I don't know if they'll have that opportunity to be accepted and not be judged to do that, unfortunately, by the coaches. That kind of deters them from even going out and trying out for a team just based on the fact that they're fearful of what will happen to them."