The number of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth is a growing population in Salt Lake County. Exact numbers are difficult to ascertain. Salt Lake County has more than 261,000 youth so assuming 5% of youth are LGBTQ, there are approximately 13,000 LGBTQ youth. The Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) reports 30% of street youth identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual, 6.8% identified as transgender and LGBTQ youth are much more likely to stay with a stranger and less likely to stay in a shelter than heterosexual youth. In addition, 26% of LGBTQ youth are rejected and ejected from their family after coming out.
According to Caitlin Ryan, a researcher at San Francisco State University, “Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Utah youth ages 10 to 17 and young adults ages 18 to 24 — higher than the national average. Studies have found that LGBTQ youth are at least three times more likely than heterosexual youth to attempt suicide and about four times more likely to make a medically serious suicide attempt, she said. More than 5,000 youth are estimated to experience homelessness in Utah per year. Of these, at least 40 percent are LGBT and the majority is from religious and socially conservative families.”
The Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) reports from 2014 data the following information:
1) LGBTQ youth are three times more likely than their straight peers to have been pregnant or to have impregnated someone, FYSB urges communities to continue critical efforts to prevent teen pregnancy.
2) 75% of LGBTQ youth report being bullied/verbally abused at school.
3) 36% report being physically harassed.
4) 16% report being physically assaulted. Specific to Salt Lake County, 43% of local homeless youth identify as something other than straight (Volunteers of America Homeless Youth Resource Center).
In 2012, Salt Lake County Youth Services recognized that LGBTQ youth referrals for services were increasing. Youth Services then partnered with the Utah Pride Center for ideas and input to ensure Youth Services was a friendlier, safer, and an understanding place for LGBTQ youth who need help. In addition to this, Youth Services created a LGBTQ advocate committee consisting of therapists, administrators, youth workers, a recreational therapist and a family resource facilitator. Youth Services provides inclusion training for all staff to provide education and support about the LGBTQ culture and needs. Youth Services recently became a member of the Utah LGBTQ Guild Association. Youth Services has become more welcoming by displaying equality stickers and posters in the facility, including LGBTQ information in its brochures, and changing from gender specific rest rooms to unisex for youth, families and our staff. Youth Services has LGBTQ affirmative therapists available for youth who are seeking mental health, crisis, or substance abuse treatment.
For more information please call Salt Lake County Youth Services at 385-468-4500 or go to www.youth.slco.org.