Publication date: April 2019
Source: Children and Youth Services Review, Volume 99
Author(s): Stephanie Begun, Cressida Frey, Katie Massey Combs, Michaela Torrie
Research documents that homeless youth hold complex attitudes toward pregnancy that are often ambivalent or positive. Gaining further understanding of youths’ diverse pregnancy attitudes is important, especially as most studies focus solely on heterosexual, cisgender-identified females. This knowledge gap fails to acknowledge that youth who identify as LGBTQ+ experience homelessness at higher rates than youth who identify as cisgender and heterosexual, and are equally if not more likely to experience pregnancy. This phenomenological study explored pregnancy attitudes among 30 homeless youth of various genders and sexual orientations. Participants fell into three groups (pro-pregnancy, ambivalent, and anti-pregnancy), and sub-themes emerged within each group. Five participants described pregnancy as clearly positive and something they actively would like to experience in their current lives. Pro-pregnancy themes included that pregnancy/parenting offered a path to a loving family, instrumental supports, and respect from others. Thirteen participants described ambivalent attitudes in which they did not currently want a pregnancy, but could see benefits. Themes for this group included that despite being a shock, and depending on the partner, a pregnancy could help them make positive changes. Twelve participants described anti-pregnancy attitudes in which pregnancy was viewed as clearly negative. Themes emerged around not being ready for parenting, and wanting to avoid being a stereotype, like their parents, or having their child enter foster care. Findings suggest that shame- and blame-free education on contraception, healthy relationships, pregnancy decision-making options, and parenting is urgently needed for youth of all identities, though subgroups have varying perspectives and needs.