First author Heather Corliss of Children's Hospital Boston said the study involved more than 6,300 Massachusetts public high-school students.
Corliss and colleagues analyzed data on high school students from the 2005 and 2007 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Surveys conducted every other year in most states.
Massachusetts was the first state to add a multiple-choice question asking, "What is your primary nighttime residence?" or "Where do you typically sleep at night?"
In the study, published online in the American Journal of Public Health, of 6,317 teenagers who gave full information on their sexual orientation and homelessness status, less than 5 percent identified themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual, yet they accounted for 19 percent of those who identified themselves as homeless.
"Teens with a sexual minority orientation are more likely than heterosexual teens to be unaccompanied and homeless rather than part of a homeless family," Corlis said in a statement.
"This suggests that they may be more likely to be mistreated or rejected by their families and more likely to leave home."