The researchers analyzed a survey of more than 6,000 public high school students and found that approximately 25 percent of gay and lesbian teens and 15 percent of those who said they are bisexual were homeless, compared with just 3 percent of heterosexual teens who were homeless.
"It may be that their living situation is so difficult that they decide to leave home, and it may be that they are coming out and their parents are telling them, not under my roof," said the study's lead author, Heather Corliss, a research scientist at Children's and an instructor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.
Corliss' team analyzed the data from the 2005 and 2007 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a comprehensive survey conducted every other year by state education and public health officials to assess teen health, such as tobacco, alcohol and drug use, and sexual orientation.
The researchers found that 34 percent of the students who said they were homeless in the survey also indicated that they were either gay, lesbian, bisexual or unsure of their sexual orientation. Of that group, 19 percent said they were gay, lesbian or bisexual.
Other studies of homeless teens have found that anywhere from 5 to 50 percent said they were not heterosexual.