Updated: Oct 13, 2020
An extremely vulnerable segment of our society is comprised of young people who identify as LGBTQI, especially those who are people of color and mixed race. Along with the urgent need for an inclusive society that supports their growth and development as people, access to technology is a crucial component to self-determination and success, whether personally, educationally and/or professionally. The LGBTQI youth community faces serious and ongoing challenges on a daily basis and when you layer on the unique challenges of being from a community of color, these challenges are compounded significantly and the odds of success become daunting.
Statistics suggest that the LGBTQI population comprises about 4% of the overall American population, however, an astounding 40% of homeless youth in this country are LGBTQI. LGBT Tech’s research has shown that mobile technology can play a crucial role in addressing the unique needs of LGBT homeless youth, and the overall homeless youth population, by helping them to keep in touch with supportive networks like family, friends, critical services like case workers and potential employers; gain access to preventative healthcare information; and ensure their personal safety. Clearly, access to communication technology such as connected smartphones and other devices as well as affordable, reliable access to broadband could mean the difference between having a warm place to sleep and a connection to a support community or becoming homeless or worse. Research entities are starting to recognize the vital role of technology in the lives of the homeless. For instance, a range of studies conducted by scholar Eric Rice and colleagues highlight the importance of communication technology for the mental and physical well being of homeless youth, with mobile phones and other devices allowing them to stay connected with supportive networks. In the context of preventative healthcare, online information on HIV and other STDs plays a central role for the sexual health of homeless youth. Finally, mobile phones are vital in ensuring the personal safety of homeless youth, helping them to locate safe shelters, call for help in emergency situations and record incidents of harassment.
For Latino LGBTQI youth, those problems can be even tougher given the cultural and religious stigmas associated with homosexuality in the Latino community. According to the Human Rights Campaign, the most difficult problems facing LGBTQI Latino youth are related to negative responses to their LGBTQI identity. Specifically, concern about family acceptance is the top problem identified by these young peo