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This Pride Month, Seattle advocates call for more protections for LGBTQ+ youth

caption: A pride flag is displayed outside of Amazon's Doppler building on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, in Seattle.
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A pride flag is displayed outside of Amazon's Doppler building on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Young people who identify as queer or trans are at a greater risk of experiencing homelessness and being victims of violence.

LGBTQ+ youth make up about 5% of the general population, but officials estimate about a third of King County's homeless youth identify as trans or queer.

There are a lot reasons for that, but a common one is that parents or families sometimes reject these kids, says Brandon Knox with the Lambert House, an LGBTQ youth center in Capitol Hill.

"EIther the youth are kicked out by their parents or they're treated so badly at home that they can't stand to stay and they run away," Knox says.

YouthCare, a nonprofit that connects LGBTQ+ kids with shelter and services, says this group is also more likely to be victims of violence while on the street.

In recent years as homelessness has grown in King County, so has the number of unsheltered trans and queer youth. A few youth shelters around Seattle have been set up specifically for this population that offer medical help and therapy. Recently, more shelters for homeless young adults have been updated to better serve queer and trans people around Seattle. Knox says this includes basic improvements like, "the staff will intervene when they see bullying and harassment by other shelter residents.”

Knox notes that, as other states have passed laws targeting trans and gender nonconforming teens, people are turning to Seattle for help.

“I have met a number of trans families in the last year or more families with trans children that have moved to the Seattle area from places like Texas and Florida and other states in the South," he says.

To keep up with this pace, Knox says our region needs more places for LGBTQ teens and young adults to find shelter, friends, and safety.

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