Date of Award


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, PhD


School of Educational Studies

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Gwen Garrison

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

David Drew

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

June Hilton

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Rights Information

© 2023 Jonathan C Lee


LGBTQ, homelessness, youth, McKinney-Vento, services, experiences, description, risk amplification, intersectional minority stress

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Administration and Supervision


The hearts and minds among U.S. legislators need to change about homelessness. While homelessness is certainly a big current issue that many Americans feel that needs to be addressed by our elected leaders, in reality, there are still many debates in Congress about who should be included to receive such funding. Among them, there is bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress for homeless veterans. However, when it comes to LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness, the bills are introduced by the most progressive left and is quickly defeated. A large body of existing literature exist about LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. However, few research literatures address the intersection of McKinney-Vento and LGBTQ Youth Experiencing Homelessness. This study fills the gap of LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness in relation to the McKinney-Vento Act, the only federal legislation specifically designed to assist K-12 students who are homeless, by looking into their experiences and description of McKinney-Vento. This research is critical for tackling LGBTQ youth homelessness in Los Angeles, which can serve as a blueprint for looking at LGBTQ youth across the United States, as well as looking at gaps in LGBTQ Education Policy at the federal level because it looks at the strengths and failures of McKinney-Vento by the LGBTQ homeless target audience as well as looking into the services they wished they received under the McKinney-Vento Act. At the local level, McKinney-Vento liaisons need clarity on what their day-to-day roles are besides just having toothbrush and toothpaste in a drawer.Twenty-one individual participants in Los Angeles from two different homeless youth shelters participated in an hour-long interview. Participation was completely voluntary. Participants were compensated for their time with a $20 gift card after each interview. About half of the participants identified as cis-gender bisexual or cis-gender gay, and the other half identified as trans non-binary, or bisexual and non-binary. Eight of the twenty-one participants attended schools in California while the rest attended schools throughout the United States. With intersectional minority stress theory and risk amplification theory as the two conceptual frameworks, this was a qualitative exploratory study of young LGBTQ adults who experienced homelessness to better understand LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness and the services they are or should be receiving under McKinney-Vento. Four findings confirmed the literature and show that not one of the 21 participants were aware of their rights under McKinney-Vento, and all 21 participants experienced difficulties advocating for themselves. First, the findings of higher risk, mental health, and safety among LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness in my research matches the research from Tierney & Ward (2017). Second, the lived experiences of LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness attest they felt invisible and ignored by adults at school. Third, there is a gap in literature about LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness and how K-12 schools are addressing their needs. Fourth, participants reported that schools were using a one-size fits all approach in addressing homelessness among youth. My research goes beyond quantifying levels of higher risk, mental health, and safety; it delves into the daily realities faced by LGBTQ youth grappling with homelessness. By exploring how these individuals perceive and experience risk, as well as understanding 21 unique lived experiences, my study brings forth rich discussions about a vulnerable understudied population, and mitigating the identified risks faced by LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness.