Philly’s LGBT Homeless Youth Count Data in Context

Via Shutterstock.

Via Shutterstock.

It’s appears to be an alarming, almost unbelievable, figure: 54% of Philadelphia’s homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. But there’s a bit of context behind the recent Youth Count, orchestrated by a host of organizations, including Valley Youth House, that needs to be taken into consideration.

I spoke with Valerie Johnson, Development Director for the Greater Philadelphia Valley Youth House, who outlined the data from the recent Youth Count. There were approximately 100 participants, but only 50 of those youth fully completed the survey. Of those 50 responses, 27 of youth identified as LGBT, and 7 of those 27 identified as trans.

My initial reaction was that 27 LGBTQ youth out of 50 was alarmingly disproportionate, but that 50 respondents seemed quite low. I asked Ms. Johnson about the 50 total respondents, and she said that the number is consistent with past Youth Counts. She also confirmed what I assumed, that it is extremely difficult to get the homeless youth population to participate in these polls given the extreme hardships that they are already experiencing.

The full report on the most recent Youth Count, which will be released shortly, should provide further information. This is by no means a way to “write off” the 27 LGBTQ youth that were surveyed in this most recent Youth Count, but rather should serve as a call to action for the Philadelphia LGBT community and their allies to spread the word about services like Valley Youth House and The Attic Youth Center to both at-risk youth and those who mentor and support them.