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1 in 4 Gay and Lesbian Teens are Homeless According to Study

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Homelessness is a major problem for sexual minority teens according to a new study. Austin's non-profit organization, LifeWorks, deal with many cases like this.

One in four gay, lesbian or transgender teens and 15 percent of bisexual teens are homeless, according to a study issued by the American Journal of Public Health. This is in contrast to three percent of heterosexual teens who are homeless. The study was made up of 6,300 Boston, Mass. public high school students.

Susan McDowell is the executive director of LifeWorks, an Austin non-profit that helps homeless youth. McDowell says she isn't surprised at all by the results of this study.

"We frequently see gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth who are in homeless or very fragile situations. Unfortunately, many youth who come out, don't come out in supportive environments," McDowell told KUT News. "Maybe their families don't understand or they don't have the community systems of support that will support them so they do end up homeless, and they need a great deal of support."

McDowell says that the study does a good job of voicing the need of more supportive counseling services for sexual minority teens who are homeless. McDowell also says it's critical for service providers to understand the issues involved with coming out.

Kelsey Johnson is a summer intern with KUT news. She is a recent graduate from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications with an emphasis in electronic media.