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Research on the Human Service Needs of LGBT Populations


Photo of gay couple, one man hugging another.Survey data from 2004-2009 suggest that approximately 3.8 percent of adults (or roughly 9 million people) in the United States identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Younger adults more often identify themselves as LGBT than older adults.

2010 U.S. Census data indicate that there are almost 650,000 same-sex couple households in the United States.  About 17 percent of these same-sex couples are raising their own children.

Recently, ACF has taken steps to strengthen services for LGBT populations.  Existing data signal that these populations may be disproportionately at risk of poor outcomes related to health, economic security and social well-being.

Even as new data emerge, much remains unknown about the characteristics of low-income and at-risk LGBT populations, including their  interactions with federal human service programs. The Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation’s Research Development Project on the Human Service Needs of LGBT Populations is intended to inform ACF’s research on these topics.

The project will examine the knowledge base on LGBT populations’ characteristics and interactions with human services.  It will identify data gaps.  And it will create recommendations for future research in this field.

The project will explore:

  • Socioeconomic characteristics and risk factors of LGBT populations
  • LGBT populations’ current use of human services and potential barriers to access
  • Strategies for meeting the human services needs of LGBT populations
  • Research opportunities and priorities
  • How shelters are addressing the needs of LGBT runaway and homeless youth

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Naomi Goldstein is Director of the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the Department of Health and Human Services. She is responsible for advising the Assistant Secretary for Children and Families on increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of ACF programs.

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