LGBTQ Youth and Child Trafficking

Source:

LGBTQ youth without a strong support system are exploited at a higher rate than their straight peers. LGBTQ youth may be kicked out of their homes by guardians because of the youth’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity, or may run away from home as a result of mistreatment by family members because of the youth’s gender identity and/or sexual orientation. It may also be difficult to find sufficient shelters for trans youth.

Vulnerablilities of LGBTQ youth:

  • Lack of familial and social supports;
  • Homelessness;
    • 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ
  • Discrimination, misconceptions, and abuse;
    • By family members, peers, community, social service agencies, and law enforcement.
    • LGBTQ youth are 7.4 times more likely to experience acts of sexual violence than their straight peers.
  • Lack of safe shelter and fewer resources/employment opportunities;
  • Difficulty or fear in reaching out for assistance due to fears that they will be mistreated or not believed.

 

Survival sex is the use of sex in exchange for money and/or material goods including food, drugs, and shelter. LGBTQ youth are 3-7 times more likely to engage in survival sex to meet their basic needs. Youth can be introduced to survival sex by peers or by exploiters, and many youth had been controlled by an exploiter at some point in their lives.

 

Traffickers exploit vulnerabilities to compel the youth into trafficking situations. They seek to meet the youth’s needs and offer a sense of family protection or love to build rapport and loyalty, potentially preventing the youth from speaking out. Traffickers do not care about a victim’s sexual orientation and may force straight youth to have sex with people of the same gender or force gay youth to have sex with people of the opposite sex, potentially causing an additional level of shame for the youth.

 

What to do for LGBTQ youth who are/were trafficked:

  • Do not assume that all youth are heterosexual and/or gender-conforming;
  • Do not assume that LGBTQ youth are identifiable by stereotypical habits, mannerisms , or behaviors;
  • Use gender-neutral language with all youth and ask what pronouns they prefer
  • Respect the privacy pertaining to their gender identity or sexual orientation as this may have not been disclosed to a parent or primary caretakers;
  • Offer the victim support or referrals to vetted LGBTQ resources in the area.

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