While traffickers target many vulnerable populations, there are some circumstances or risk factors that human traffickers often try to exploit for their own profit, such as homelessness, or past histories of abuse or discrimination.
Unfortunately, youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning (LGBTQ+) are especially likely to face difficulties like these, which makes them especially susceptible to the traps set by traffickers, such as the promise of a stable place to live or a loving relationship.
Staying Safe: Tips for LGBTQ Youth for How to Protect Yourself and Your Community from Human Trafficking, made possible through the generous support of the Palette Fund, speaks directly to LGBTQ+ youth about this issue. While acknowledging and commending the tremendous amount of strength and resiliency LGBTQ+ youth show when facing hardships, Staying Safe also highlights important risk factors that they should be aware of, and teaches youth how to recognize and respond to signs of human trafficking.
It is not enough to rely on law enforcement, service providers, or concerned citizens to intervene in potential trafficking situations. We have to continue to expand the safety net so that LGBTQ+ youth and other vulnerable communities are equipped with the tools to protect themselves and their fellow community members from trafficking and exploitation.