Homeless LGBTQ teens in New York are trading sex for shelter in a practice called “survival sex.”
This was the finding of a study conducted by non-profit group Urban Institute, which interviewed 283 homeless LGBTQ teens in the city over the course of three years.
The study sought to determine the extent of their involvement in the commercial sex trade with a view to making policy recommendations to address the issue not only in relation to teens but other homeless individuals in the city. LGBTQ individuals are estimated to account for 40 per cent of New York’s homeless population.
The study found that almost all of those interviewed were paid in cash but one third also received warm beds for the night, as well as clothing, food or drugs. Respondents reporting using the payments they receive to buy food, clothing, cell phone bills, cigarettes, weed and toiletries.
Eighty per cent of the respondents said the best thing about engaging in survival sex was that they get food and shelter, but almost all conceded that they are wary of the danger and the stigma that the trade entails.
According to the study, 42 per cent of the youth learned about the commercial sex industry through close knit peer groups developed in the streets, and received most of the tips about where to get clients from fellow homeless LGBTQs.
In an effort to assist the teens, these peers post online ads on their behalf to hook them up with dates but unlike pimp-prostitute relationships, their intent is not to profit but rather to help the youth find a means to survive.
Most of the times, the study found that the homeless LGBTQs steer away from pimp territories and instead hang out in other areas where clients are “cruising.”
The vast majority of respondents (72 per cent) expressed a desire to get out of the sex trade, but the lack of social services and affordable shelter options pose a hindrance to turning over a new leaf.
A 19-year old homeless teen who was kicked out of his house by his grandmother said of his experience: “At first I didn’t want to. But I didn’t want to stay in the streets.”
“It’s not as bad as sleeping under the bridge,” another teenager said.
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SOURCE: Christian Today