New research from UT Austin backs up what many experts suspected. The study finds that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youths are more likely to end up in foster care or unstable housing and suffer negative outcomes, such as substance abuse or mental health issues, while living in the child welfare system.
The February paper in the journal Pediatrics looked at nearly 600,000 youths living in California. Overall, researchers found that less than 1 percent of the sample was living in foster care or unstable housing, but more than 30 percent of those living in foster care identified as LGBTQ. More than 25 percent of those living in unstable housing — defined as living at a friend’s house, motel, shelter or other transitional housing — identified as LGBTQ.
“People have been concerned for some time that LGBTQ youth are over-represented in the child welfare system, but there has been little evidence — until now,” says Stephen T. Russell, chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences at UT Austin.