True Colors United
NLCHP logo

State Highlights

Some areas where Tennessee has moved the needle relative to other states include providing unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness the opportunity to seek legal independence and live independently, addressing the educational needs of youth experiencing homelessness, and promoting safety and inclusion by providing protections for LGBTQ youth within key state programs.

Law and Policy

Law & Policy

  • State law does not specifically criminalize running away.
  • State law provides youth experiencing homelessness some contract rights.
  • The state has a grievance process for students experiencing homelessness that complies with federal law and explicitly allows students to earn partial and alternative school credits.
  • The state allows unaccompanied youth under 18 to apply for health insurance coverage without parental consent.

Systems

Systems

  • There is a current state plan to end homelessness that contains a youth-specific strategy component. 
  • There is a state entity that focuses solely on designing, implementing, and evaluating youth homelessness programs.
  • There is a state interagency council on homelessness.

Environment

Environment

  • The state promotes safe and inclusive environments in child welfare and juvenile justice programs by providing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Recommendations for Improvement

There is room for improvement throughout the metrics for the Volunteer State, with emphasis on the Law & Policy and Environment categories. Laws authorizing comprehensive supports and services for youth experiencing homelessness and protecting the rights and interests of youth experiencing homelessness, including LGBTQ youth, should be prioritized.

Law and Policy

Law & Policy

  • Enact and fund a state law similar to the federal RHYA to provide key intervention and emergency services for youth experiencing homelessness.
  • Enact a state law that allows youth in need of supervision to receive services without court involvement.
  • Allow shelters to take in youth experiencing homelessness with a delay or waiver of notification requirements.

Systems

Systems

  • As part of the state plan to prevent and end youth homelessness, include a strategy to address homelessness among LGBTQ youth.
  • Remove barriers to obtaining state-issued identification cards by enacting policies which remove the requirement of parental consent for youth and address proof of residency requirements for youth experiencing homelessness.

Environment

Environment

  • Organize and maintain a self-governing youth action board or council to inform youth homelessness policy within the state.
  • Require training about sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, healthy sexual development, or issues specific to LGBTQ youth for staff working in runaway and homeless youth systems.
  • Promote safe and inclusive environments in runaway and homeless youth programs by providing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 
  • Ban controversial and ineffective service provision that includes conversion therapy.

 

Download The Fact Sheet

Download a print-friendly version of this state's scorecard.

DOWNLOAD