Example: The story of Sam is an example of how easily LGBTQ runaways can be victimized by human trafficking. When Sam’s father found out that Sam was gay, he threw him out of the house. Having nowhere else to turn, Sam loaded up his car to leave for Chicago. When he arrived in Boy’s Town, an LGBTQ community in Chicago, he was abducted by a pimp and was commercially sexually exploited.
Great strides are being made toward bringing equality and understanding of the LBGTQ community; however, strong societal discrimination still remains, particularly in the area of victim identification and service provision. Various studies have shown that LGBTQ individuals are more likely to be bullied by their peers, ostracized by their communities, or be vulnerable to human trafficking. According to the Family and Youth Services Bureau within the Administration of Children and Families at HHS, LGBTQ youth account for up to 40 percent of the runaway and homeless youth population. Once living on the street, the vulnerability to human trafficking can increase significantly.
Like other populations, LGBTQ individuals who are trafficked have specific needs that must be addressed. It is important for service providers to understand their experience of violence and trauma, to understand the specific fears of rejection and discrimination, to educate all task force members about LGBTQ communities, and to ensure that they are treated with sensitivity and respect by providing training and consultations with members across the task force.
Below are some key considerations when working with LGBTQ victims:
OVC TTAC offers training on Serving LGBTQ Survivors of Violence. Topics include LGBTQ specific programs, barriers for LGBTQ people accessing services, how to serve survivors, action planning, accountability and resources.
For additional information and tools, visit the Resource page for Section 4.5 Victim Populations.