Better supporting LGBTQIA2S+ youth survivors of commercial sexual exploitation
Guide aims to center youth experiences, help providers improve services

Understanding the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of LGBTQIA2S+

Every young person should be supported in being themselves and afforded the same opportunities to learn, grow and chase their dreams. For youth who are LGBTQIA2S+, however, this ideal often conflicts with their reality.

Young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, Two-Spirit, or another sexual and/or gender identity are among the most at risk of being victimized through sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. To improve services and understanding to better support these youth, the National Center for Youth Law is proud to share "Understanding the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of LGBTQIA2S+ Youth." 

Helping service providers build inclusive services and spaces 

Developed in partnership with the Los Angeles LGBT Center RISE Program, Saving Innocence and the Young Women's Freedom Center, this guide provides an overview of available data and case studies to highlight particular vulnerabilities and pathways to commercial sexual exploitation for youth who are LGBTQIA2S+, barriers this population faces, and recommendations — based on the experiences of young people — for providers to improve services.

"Young people should be getting the services and support they need, in healthy and inclusive environments," said Kate Walker Brown, Senior Director of the Collaborative Responses to Commercial Sexual Exploitation team at the National Center for Youth Law and one of the guide's co-authors. "We hope providers will use the information young people with lived experience shared to build better supports, ultimately helping youth thrive."

Empowering Youth to Recognize and Voice What They Need

Youth who are LGBTQIA2S+ are disproportionately impacted by sexual exploitation due to multiple intersecting social, structural, and economic forces. This has led youth who are LGBTQIA2S+ to face disproportionately high rates of abuse, fear, and rejection within their families, schools and communities. They are also overrepresented in the foster care and juvenile court systems, where they often experience further discrimination, mistreatment, and trauma.

This guide offers several recommendations for providers to help LGBTQIA2S+ youth feel empowered to recognize and voice what they want and need. Learn more about:

  • Recognizing and addressing biases;
  • Requiring training and education;
  • Engaging and partnering with people with lived experience;
  • Improving identification and screening;
  • Creating safe and affirming homes and placements;
  • Ensuring representation and inclusivity;
  • Providing access to gender-affirming health care; and
  • Investing in more research.

Download the guide, and also check out our guide focused on improving services for boys and young men impacted by commercial sexual exploitation.