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Supporting LGBTQ Foster Youth
In an earlier post this month, we discussed the 440,000 children in foster care nationwide. However, among those 440,000 children and youth are an over-represented group that, according to a 2019 California-based study, represent nearly 31%. These are young people who identify as LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning). These youth are more likely to experience discrimination, abuse, neglect and risk of harm than cisgender youth who live in foster care. In fact, the U.S. National Alliance to End Homelessness reports that LGBTQ homeless youth are roughly 7.4 times more likely to suffer acts of sexual violence than heterosexual homeless youth.
Only 13 states and the District of Columbia have explicit laws or policies in place to protect foster youth from discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity (Kozuch, 2020). Seven additional states explicitly protect foster youth from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but not gender identity (Kozuch, 2020). The state of Arizona is not among those 13. In fact, according to the Movement Advancement Project no such protections have become law in Arizona.
Without these kinds of protections, foster parents become even more important to the well-being of LGBTQ youth. Child Welfare Information Gateway, a division of the Children’s Bureau, has compiled a fact sheet for foster parents on how to support LGBTQ children in their care, including tips for creating a welcoming and inclusive home and how to advocate for them in the community. The Foster Club has compiled a host of resources on how to support LGBTQ youth, and to help reduce the unique risks they face. Also, the Human Rights Campaign compiled a list of “5 Things You Can Do Today to Support LGBTQ Youth.”
Here are 10 quick tips for supporting your LGBTQ foster youth: