This report focuses on LGBTQ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning] youth who become involved in the commercial sex market to meet basic survival needs, describing their experiences with law enforcement, the criminal justice system, and the child welfare system. Interviews with these youth reveal that over 70 percent had been arrested at least once, with many reporting frequent arrest for “quality-of-life” and misdemeanor crimes other than prostitution offenses. Youth described their experiences of being cycled in and out of the justice system as highly disruptive and generating far-reaching collateral consequences ranging from instability in the home and school to inability to pay fines and obtain lawful employment. This report is part of a larger three-year Urban Institute study of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) youth; young men who have sex with men (YMSM); and young women who have sex with women (YWSW) engaged in survival sex. Sections of this report cover: highlights; literature review; study goals and methodology; LGBTQ youth interactions with and perspectives of law enforcement—youth demographics, what type of interactions, whom do youth turn to when in trouble, and concluding thoughts; criminal justice system responses to LGBTQ youth, YMSMS, and YWSW—LGBTQ affirming policies and practices, the challenges the criminal justice system must face in addressing this population, what stakeholders need to better serve theses youth, and the role the criminal justice system must play for LGBTQ youth engaged in survival sex; child welfare stakeholder perspectives—how the child welfare system responds to these youth; and the role the child welfare system faces addressing this population; LGBTQ youth perspectives on child welfare; LGBTQ youths' experiences in the child welfare system, perspectives on these experiences, concluding thoughts; discussion and summary; policy and practice recommendations; and how these agencies can be improved according to young people.
This is "the first study to focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) youth; young men who have sex with men (YMSM); and young women who have sex with women (YWSW) who get involved in the commercial sex market in order to meet basic survival needs, such as food or shelter. The report documents these youth’s experiences and characteristics to gain a better understanding of why they engage in survival sex, describes how the support networks and systems in their lives have both helped them and let them down, and makes recommendations for better meeting the needs of this vulnerable population " (website). Sections of this report include; highlights; youths' engagement in the commercial sex trade for survival; current study goals and methodology; findings regarding the characteristics of LGBTQ youth, YMSM, and YWSW engaged in survival in New York City, the pathways into the survival-sex trade for this population, the characteristics of the commercial sex market, how much the youth earn and how they spend these earnings, the physical risks to them and how they protect themselves, the ways others help the youth find customers, the number of youth involved in exploitative situations, the composition of the youths' network, and the youths' perceptions of engaging in survival sex; discussion and summary; policy and practice guidelines; and main findings.