AMA Wire

Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012

News for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Physicians

GLBT homeless youth population faces major challenges, study finds

GLBT homeless youth population faces major challenges, study finds

About 40 percent of homeless or at-risk youths identify as gay or transgendered, according to a recent study conducted by The Palette Fund, the Forty to None Project, and the Williams Institute.

Family rejection was most frequently cited as a reason for running away from home, and an alarming 43 percent reported being forced out of their homes because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

These disproportionately high figures are compounded by the finding that gay and transgender homeless youth may not be getting the help they need from homeless youth service providers, the authors write. Only 24 percent of service providers were designed specifically for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) youths, and 40 percent reported not having the capability to address the most common reason for GLBT youth homelessness: family rejection.

On a positive note, providers did not cite an unwillingness as the reason for lacking GLBT services. Instead, most believe inadequate funding was the major hurdle to alleviating GLBT youth homelessness.

The authors hope their findings will help garner attention and increased resources for the agencies on the front lines.

"The results of this survey act as further confirmation that America's next generation of gay and transgender youth need us to stand with them so that they can stand on their own," said Gregory Lewis, executive director of the True Colors Fund, in a statement.

Physicians also can help by ensuring that their GLBT youth patients have the care and support they need. The AMA offers resources on understanding important GLBT health issues and learning to communicate with GLBT patients.

California lawmakers vote to ban GLBT youth reparative therapy

Controversial legislation that would outlaw the use of gay-to-straight “conversion” therapy on minors passed the California Assembly on Tuesday. The bill now returns to the state Senate, which approved a version of the ban in May, for a final vote.

Critics say the bill allows the state to dictate appropriate methods of therapy, a role usually reserved for practitioners. However supporters, including the bill's sponsor, state Sen. Ted Lieu, cite the American Psychiatric Association, which does not approve of any reparative therapy treatments. The APA has a position statement that conversion therapy has caused more harm than good and can increase depression, anxiety and self destructive behavior, sexual confusion, and even suicide in gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) youths.

The AMA opposes the use of "reparative" or "conversion" therapy that is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the assumption that the patient should change his or her homosexual orientation.