New Study Looks at Experiences of LGBTQ Youth Engaged in Survival Sex in New York

A smiling young man sitting on steps outdoors.

A new report from Urban Institute (PDF, 887KB) looks at the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth in New York City who participate in "survival sex"--trading sex for cash or shelter. The report's authors conducted in-depth interviews with 283 youth who had engaged in survival sex in New York City and identified as LGBTQ. The study aimed to describe and quantify youths’ experiences and characteristics to gain a better understanding of why and how they engaged in survival sex and how the support networks and systems in their lives have helped them or let them down.

Here are some of the report's findings:

  • Youth who have few other “viable means for meeting their basic needs" are more likely to participate in "survival sex" as a means to an end, rather than something they want to do.
  • As many other reports on this subject suggest, the most common way youth reported first becoming involved in trading sex was through friends or peers, but their ways of becoming involved depended to some extent on sexual identity.
  • When asked about leaving "the life" of trading sex, almost all youth wanted to stop.

For more insight into the lives of youth who trade sex for necessities, read "Surviving the Streets of New York: Experiences of LGBTQ Youth, YMSM, and YWSW Engaged in Survival Sex" (PDF, 887KB).

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Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of NCFY, FYSB or the Administration for Children & Families.

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