How Does Sex Trafficking Affect Homeless Youth?

Sex Trafficking & LGBTQ Youth

How Are LGBTQ Youth More Vulnerable?

LGBTQ youth may fear the repercussions of reporting their situation, particularly if they worry others will mistreat or not believe them because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. 

Of the 40% of LGBTQ Homeless Youth:

  • 46% Ran away because of family rejection
  • 7.4x more likely to experience acts of sexual violence than their heterosexual peers
  • 3-7x more likely to engage in survival sex to meet basic needs such as shelter, food, drugs, and toiletries 

Youth without safe shelter and social supports are at higher risk of trafficking and exploitation. Traffickers exploit their needs and vulnerabilities to compel them into sex or labor trafficking. LGBTQ youth may be trafficked by intimate partners, family members, friends, or strangers 

-Polaris 2018

Red Flags for Sex Trafficking

Awareness. Education. Help.

Many people do not know they are experiencing trafficking. Here are the common features of a person experience sex trafficking:

  • Feels they must provide sex in exchange for food, housing, hormones, or other needs
  • Photos of the person have been placed online for advertising purposes
  • Movement or communications are monitored 
  • Is hesitant to answer questions
  • Has been threatened with harm to self or loved ones, arrest, or deportation
  • Demonstrates mental health concerns- PTSD, anxiety, depression
  • Has debt they cannot pay off
  • Earnings are confiscated or held by others 
  • Shows signs of physical or sexual abuse, neglect, malnourishment or poor hygiene

Lifesaving Resources

It can be very difficult for those experiencing trafficking to disclose their situation or reach out for help. Many people do not know they are experiencing trafficking or that help is available. If you are experiencing trafficking or know somebody who is please contact:

Iowa Victim Services Hotline


Breaking Trafficking

 1 (888) 373-7888 

Crisis Assistance- Trevor Project


Help PUT an End to LGBTQ sex trafficking

We need your help to raise awareness and end trafficking in Iowa. Give homeless LGBTQ youth a voice today! 

Pay with PayPal or a debit/credit card


Contact Us


a project of Iowa Safe Schools

(515) 381-0588