LGBTQIA+ Youth and Social Determinants of Health

LGBTQIA+ youth experience identity-specific social determinants of health, which have a significant impact on their physical and mental health outcomes.

Social determinants of health (SODH): the conditions and contexts that affect their health and quality-of life-risks.

Types of Social Determinants

Health Care
  • Limited access (perceived and actual) to affirmative healthcare providers.
  • Poorer quality of care due to lack of healthcare provider comfort and competence.
Family and Homelessness
  • Only 1/3 felt like their homes were affirming.
  • 26% of LGBTQIA+ youth report a lack of acceptance at home and only 34% say their home is affirming.
  • Lack of family support or being forced out of the family home leads to many LGBTQIA+ youth being placed in foster care, ending up homeless, and/or becoming involved in the juvenile justice system.
  • LGBTQ youth are 120% more likely to experience homelessness than their non-LGBTQIA+ peers.
  • Up to 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQIA+.
School and Peers
  • Less than 50% feel comfortable coming out to an adult at school.
  • 86% have been harassed at school.
  • 33% of LGBTQIA+ youth are bullied in-person and 42% are bullied electronically.
  • 65% of LGBTQIA+ middle school students report being bullied.
  • 32.7% of LGBTQIA+ youth skipped at least one day of school in the last month because they feel uncomfortable and unsafe at school and 8.6% of LGBTQ+ youth skipped at least four days in the last month for the same reasons.
  • 10% have been threatened or harmed with a weapon at school.
  • 17-58% of LGB adolescents and 89% of transgender adolescents experience physical or dating violence.
  • 23% of LGB adolescents and about 60% of transgender adolescents report being sexually assaulted.
Neighborhood, Community, and Society
  • LGBTQIA+ youth are more likely to experience verbal and physical harassment and threats in their communities.
  • May not have access to bathrooms, resources, and other spaces and services that align with their gender identity.
  • About two-thirds of LGBTQIA+ youth had an adult try to convince them to change their gender identity or sexual orientation.
  • Legal policies restrict their access to healthcare or may fail to protect them from bullying.
LGBTQIA+ Youth of Color
  • Face discrimination based on both their LGBTQIA+ and racial identities.
  • Are overrepresented in child welfare and juvenile detention systems.
  • These challenges can threaten the health and well-being of LGBTQIA+ youth.
  • More likely to experience violence, have language barriers, face greater disciplinary action for similar behaviors.
  • May feel unwelcome, and have more difficulty finding acceptance and loving relationships.