- June 2016
- Vol. 17, No. 4
Special Initiative: LGBTQ Pride Month
June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and/or Questioning (LGBTQ) Pride Month. LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in foster care, making up a larger percentage of youth in care than in the general youth population. Research found that there are 13.6 percent LGBTQ-identified youth in foster care compared to 7.2 percent in the general youth population, and 5.6 percent transgender youth in foster care compared to 2.25 percent in the general youth population.1
Additionally, these youth face particular challenges in care or treatment that their peers may not. Only 13 States and Washington, DC, have laws that explicitly protect youth in foster care from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.2 Another seven States protect youth against sexual orientation discrimination only.3 Laws aren't the only places where these youth face discrimination—many may experience rejection, hurtful language, and a general lack of support from resource families and/or child welfare workers. The greater bias and discrimination they face can lead to negative outcomes, such as homelessness (56 percent), high levels of depression (six times more likely), or attempted suicide (eight times more likely).4
Parents, resources families, and child welfare professionals can help protect this vulnerable population by providing support and acceptance. Standing together with LGBTQ youth is one of the most valuable protective factors that someone can provide. There are many resources available for youth and concerned adults that provide advice, guidance, and information about mental and behavioral health, education, working with LGBTQ youth and families, and the particular risks these youth and families face.
Resources for LGBTQ Youth in Care
- American Bar Association – It's You're Life Opening Doors: Improving the Legal System's Approach to LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/migrated/child/PublicDocuments/its_your_life.authcheckdam.pdf (6 MB)
- Child Welfare Information Gateway – Resources for LGBTQ Youth in Out-of-Home Care
Resources for Child Welfare Workers and LGBTQ Families
- American Psychological Association – Answers to Your Questions About Transgender People, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/transgender.pdf (206 KB)
- Child Welfare Information Gateway – Working With Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Families in Adoption
- Child Welfare Information Gateway - Frequently Asked Questions From Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Prospective Foster and Adoptive Parents
- Human Rights Campaign – All Children - All Families: Promising Practices Guide
- Lambda Legal – Getting Down to Basics Tool Kit
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, and Two-Spirit (LGBTQI2-S) Resource Toolkit
1 Wilson, B.D.M., Cooper, K., Kastansis, A., & Nezhad, S. (2014). Sexual and gender minority youth in foster care: Assessing disproportionality and disparities in Los Angeles. Retrieved from http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/LAFYS_report_final-aug-2014.pdf (938 KB).
2 California, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington. Gill, A.M. (2015). 2014 State equality index. Retrieved from http://hrc-assets.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/files/assets/resources/HRC-SEI-2014-FullReportREV.pdf (36 MB).
3 Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Gill, A.M. (2015). 2014 State equality index. Retrieved from http://hrc-assets.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com//files/assets/resources/HRC-SEI-2014-FullReportREV.pdf (36 MB).
4 Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2013). Supporting your LGBTQ youth: A guide for foster parents. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children's Bureau.