Abstract: Homeless Youth Shelters and Services for Transgender Clients: Results from a Nationwide Survey (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

282P Homeless Youth Shelters and Services for Transgender Clients: Results from a Nationwide Survey

Friday, January 18, 2019
Continental Parlors 1-3, Ballroom Level (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Pam H. Bowers, PhD, MSW, Assistant Professor, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
Donna Aguiniga, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK
David Reamer, BA, Graduate Student, Southern New Hampshire University, NH
Jordann Reynolds, BSW, Graduate Student, University of Alaska Anchorage, AK
Background and Purpose: Shelters can provide a safe haven for youth who are experiencing homelessness. Moreover, shelters that offer inclusive policies that respect all guests lay a foundation for safety and for all youth to feel welcome. In 2016, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released new standards to ensure the needs of transgender people experiencing homelessness are being met. The new HUD standards for homeless shelters include using gender affirming inclusive language, creating/updating inclusive policy standards, and creating inclusive spaces (HUD, 2016). The following national study surveyed homeless youth shelter directors and other staff with the primary objective to identify the policies of and services offered by homeless youth shelters with a specific focus on services for transgender youth.

Methods: In 2017, a comprehensive list of homeless youth shelters in the United States was constructed and executive directors as well as other administrators were invited to participate in our online survey. The survey including general questions about services, shelter policies for youth including those who are transgender, funding sources, and location of services. One section of the survey focused on demographic questions about the person completing the survey, including their gender identity, position in the agency, education, and years worked, and also asked their opinion about which services were most important in relation to serving transgender youth. All data were analyzed using SPSS v.22.

Results: The final sample consisted of n=122 respondents representing shelters in 38 states and D.C. In the past 12 months, respondents recalled an 81.3% cisgender youth population, a 7.2% transgender youth population, and 11.5% of clients whose gender identity is unknown. Results indicated approximately 88.1% of shelters surveyed offered accommodations that match gender identity. Finally, private intake spaces were available in 95% of the shelters who were surveyed. Additional findings will be shared in the poster.

Conclusions & Implications: The results of the current state of youth shelters with regard to transgender affirming policies and practices indicate many strengths by the respondents and also several opportunities for change. Recommendations include that shelters continue updating their policies to reflect not only HUD equal access and gender identity rules, but also conform to additional best practices for gender affirming practices. Other recommendations include the development and implementation of training on current policies and gender affirming practices for both youth clients and staff. Additional recommendations and implications for practice will be discussed. At the conference, an updated infographic indicating results and implications will also be available for participants to receive a copy.