Ableism, Disability, and Systemic Injustice in the Lives of Runaway Youth and Youth Considering Running Away

It is well documented that marginalized youth, including Black and Brown youth and LGBTQ+ youth, experience much higher incidence of homelessness and running away. National studies frequently discuss the roles of systemic racism and heterosexism in influencing family resources and dynamics. However, in these discussions about systems of oppression and their relationship to runaway incidence and youth homelessness, there is rarely, if ever, mention of the words “disability” and “ableism.” This research, then, seeks to address that gap. Using 150 posts from the National Runaway Safeline’s public crisis forums, I analyze young people’s experiences with disability and ableism as they consider running away or do run away from home. My findings indicate the pervasive nature of ableism and disability in the lives of runaway youth and youth considering running away from home despite the lack of attention to ableism and disability in national data.

Rachel Litchman, Undergraduate Student, University of Wisconsin – Madison

4 thoughts on “Ableism, Disability, and Systemic Injustice in the Lives of Runaway Youth and Youth Considering Running Away”

  1. Thank you for sharing your research! Your identification of the gaps in research provided for a very well thought out research question and informative presentation.

  2. Thank you for your wonderful research and presentation! It was very moving to hear the stories of these youth who have been failed both by their parents and their institutions. What are some ways in which we can transform our mental health institutions from ones that are ableist to those that provide accessible solutions to disabled youth? What does accessible care look like to you?

  3. Thank you Rachel! The number of forum posts relevant to your research question definitely indicate the need for more research and policies aimed at supporting disabled runway youth and youth considering running away. Amazing job!

  4. Thank you for this lovely presentation, Rachel! I can’t wait to see where you take this work after graduation. Has your research project supported your advocacy work and vice versa?

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