Not only do queer youth of color deal with life-altering issues, says a new UCLA study, but schools and institutions are not adequately addressing their needs.
"GBTQ youth of color struggle with homelessness, poverty, family rejection and bullying," says Ilan H. Meyer, the study's principal investigator and Williams Institute Senior Scholar for Public Policy at UCLA, in a press release. "Yet, serious barriers exist to providing youth with culturally competent care."
With a grant from Liberty Hill Foundation, Williams Institute researchers contacted L.A.-based education, medical, and social service providers, examining how the unique needs of queer youth of color are being met. What they found out wasn't very good...
According to the study titled "Provider Perspectives on the Needs of Gay and Bisexual Male and Transgender Youth of Color," various institutions are dropping the ball.
The Williams Institute, for example, found that teachers who want to increase visibility of queer of youth of color often lack support from other school staff, parents, and students.
Additionally, even though some individuals in health and social service agencies are equipped to support queer youth of color, the organizations themselves "lacked institutional policies, practices or training opportunities to better serve this population."
Researchers also found that "LGBT-oriented services often lacked clear policies and training to help staff serve the needs of the diverse LGBT community," and that such services in Los Angeles County are "concentrated in West Hollywood, making it difficult for [queer youth of color] who live outside of that neighborhood to access specialized services."
The Williams Institute revealed that "economic disadvantage and geography stood out as obstacles [for queer youth of color] to obtaining services."
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All this information comes a year after the Williams Institute reported the eye-popping statistic that about 40 percent of homeless youth in the United States are LGBT.
Queer youth, in other words, need vastly improved support from LBGT organizations and other groups.
The Williams Institute offers a number of suggestions, including better school-based educational and after-school programs, adult LGBT mentorships for youth, and the creation of "specific policies" among service organizations to handle the problems of queer youth of color.