WASHINGTON, D.C. – Polaris, a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery and restore freedom to survivors, released a resource today to help service providers and criminal justice professionals better serve young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) victims of human trafficking. Many of these victims face institutional barriers or outright discrimination when seeking help. “Breaking Barriers: Improving Services for LGBTQ Human Trafficking Victims” provides a list of 10 key steps to protect young people who identify as LGBTQ from further victimization and ensure they receive the same support as other survivors of modern slavery. With each recommendation, Polaris highlights a suggested practice from an organization working with LGBTQ youth.
“LGBTQ youth in America are especially vulnerable to human trafficking since traffickers exploit at-risk populations. When LGBTQ survivors do reach out for help, they are too often turned away, discriminated against, or further victimized by the very institutions that should be helping them rebuild their lives,” said Audrey Roofeh, Polaris’s Director of Advisory Services. “If our nation is to truly succeed in helping victims of modern slavery, we must ensure all populations of victims and survivors receive the best support possible. Polaris urges service providers and criminal justice professionals to take these key steps to improve the safety net for LGBTQ people.”
By operating the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline and BeFree Textline (233733), Polaris is aware of severe gaps in services that exist across the country for all victims of human trafficking, including LGBTQ people. When survivors reach out for help, call and text specialists can have difficulty locating services for the LGBTQ population. Furthermore, a February 2015 report from the Urban Institute identified severe gaps in services for LGBTQ youth. Many of these young people reportedly faced institutional barriers, high rates of denial, violence from confidentiality breaches, and unsafe and discriminatory treatment by staff. To read more about the Urban Institute report, click here.
Polaris’s top 10 recommendations for service providers and criminal justice professionals on improving services for LGBTQ victims of human trafficking are to:
1. Build partnerships in your community
2. Train staff to create a welcoming space
3. Improve ability to identify human trafficking
4. Revamp your intake processes
5. Revisit your practices on confidentiality
6. Adapt your services to be inclusive
7. Adjust your safety planning process
8. Allow flexibility in treatment or case planning
9. Host LGBTQ inclusive events and activities
10. Advocate for the rights of LGBTQ youth
Polaris is a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery. Named after the North Star that guided slaves to freedom in the U.S., Polaris acts as a catalyst to systemically disrupt the human trafficking networks that rob human beings of their lives and their freedom. By working with government leaders, the world’s leading technology corporations, and local partners, Polaris equips communities to identify, report, and prevent human trafficking. Our comprehensive model puts victims at the center of what we do – helping survivors restore their freedom, preventing more victims, and leveraging data and technology to pursue traffickers wherever they operate. Learn more at www.polarisproject.org.