Barriers LGBT Homeless Youth Face in Obtaining Important ID Documents

CAP Report Outlines Barriers  Homeless Queer Youth Face in Obtaining Important Identification Documents

Posted by Melanie Nathan, October 01, 2015.

Washington, D.C. — Research suggests that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, youth experience homelessness at a much higher rate than their non-LGBT peers. Like for most homeless youth, this leads to significant challenges accessing food, shelter, health care, education, and employment, and these challenges may be heightened for youth who identify as LGBT. In addition, homeless youth often struggle to obtain state-issued photo identification, which further limits their access to programs and services that may aid them in securing safe and stable housing.

hqy12The Center for American Progress (CAP) has released a report examining the challenges that LGBT homeless youth face in obtaining state-issued identification and systematically reviews the patchwork of state and municipal laws that either erect or remove barriers to ID access.

“States have put up serious barriers to homeless youth obtaining ID cards,” said Laura E. Durso, Director of CAP’s LGBT Research and Communications Project, “and LGBT homeless youth face even greater challenges. Only 22 percent of states offer free or reduced-cost IDs to the homeless, and nearly half require parental consent before issuing IDs to those underage. For the many LGBT homeless youth who leave home because they are not accepted by their families, this makes obtaining ID particularly difficult. Transgender individuals often have to provide proof of surgery or an amended birth certificate to receive an ID. All this only raises the bar even higher for LGBT homeless youth to obtain the required ID to secure the employment, care, or shelter they so desperately need.”

The report, authored by former CAP Research Associate Hannah Hussey, makes concrete recommendations for states to improve the ability of LGBT homeless youth to receive the identification documents they need, including:

  • Establishing clear procedures for homeless applicants, implementing free or reduced-cost ID cards, lowering or eliminating parental consent requirements, accepting a broad range of identity documents, and updating policies on gender markers
  • Improving ID card access for youth in foster care, the juvenile justice system, and the criminal justice system
  • Having states tap into pre-existing networks of resources already serving LGBT homeless youth to reach this underserved population
  • Establishing municipal ID card programs

Click here to read the report.


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