Adoptions From The Heart is proud to be a supporter of HRC, the Human Rights Campaign, and their All Children All Families initiative that aims to achieve safety, permanency and well-being by improving practices with LGBT youth and families. AFTH is also proud to be a non-profit adoption agency that allows singles, married couples, and LGBT families or singles to adopt through their programs.
Bryan Samuels, the former commissioner of the U.S. Administration on Children, Youth, and Families said, “Every child and youth who is unable to live with his or her parents is entitled to a safe, loving and affirming foster care placement, irrespective of the young person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” This post will explore and offer advice for families who are caring for LGBTQ children whether those children are biological, adopted or fostered.
Getting Acquainted with the Terminology: A New Acronym
There are a lot of LGBT terms that people may not be familiar with and the HRC has added a new acronym into the mix.
“SOGIE” stands for Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression.
They explained, it is important to ensure the healthy development of SOGIE. A shift of focus from LGBTQ children and youth to a focus on SOGIE of all children is useful for several reasons. Every child and youth has sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, the development of SOGIE is universal, normative and essential to their well-being.
- Acknowledge that foster children and youth in your care may be LGBTQ.
- Examine your beliefs and attitudes that might impact your ability to support LGBTQ children and youth in your care.
- Understand that being LGBTQ isn’t a “choice” or something you can change.
- Educate yourself on LGBTQ issues.
- Know that your acceptance or rejection affects the health and well-being of the LGBTQ youth in your care.
- Respect the privacy and confidentiality of LGBTQ youth.
- Apply the same standards to LGBTQ youth that you apply to others for age-appropriate adolescent romantic behavior.
- Know the dangers and risks for LGBTQ youth.
- Be an advocate for LGBTQ children and youth.
- Acknowledge that there’s more to an individual than sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
- Take advantage of community resources for you and your LGBTQ foster child or youth.
- Know what it means to be “transgender” and use the term appropriately.
- Educate yourself on gender dysphoria.
- Allow transgender youth to express their gender identity.
- Make room assignments and housing decisions based on the well-being of individual youth.
- Use young people’s preferred names and pronouns.
- Avoid assumptions about transgender young people’s sexual orientation.
LGBTQ children and teens have the same needs for acceptance and support from their family, peers and other important adults in their lives as all young people do. LGBTQ children and youth also have to cope with the challenges of social stigma and discrimination. All children and youth need and deserve families to nurture them and help them as they transition into adulthood.
For more insight into these points, visit HRC.
Child Welfare by the Numbers
- Many LGBTQ youth face neglect or abuse from their families of origin because of their sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression. One study found that more than 30% of LGBTQ youth reported suffering physical violence at the hands of a family member after coming out.
- As a result of lack of acceptance and abuse in the home and at school, a disproportionate number of youth living on the streets are LGBTQ. The National Network of Runaway and Youth Services estimates that between 20 and 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ.
- Many LGBTQ youth (26%) are forced to leave their families of origin as a result of conflictions with their parents regarding their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- 78% of LGBTQ youth were removed or ran away from their foster placements as a result of hostility toward their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- LGB young adults who reported higher levels of family rejection during adolescence were 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression, and 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs.
- 33.2% of transgender youth have attempted suicide.
- Research suggests that LGBTQ youth in foster care need a range of physical and mental health services as well as educational supports and services, but that they confront barriers in accessing these services because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
LGBTQ Organizations and Resources
- Family Acceptance Project
- Advocates for Youth
- CenterLink – The Community of LGBT Centers
- Gay, Lesbian and Straight Network
- Gender Spectrum
- Human Rights Campaign
- Lambda Legal
- National Black Justice Coalition
- National Center for Lesbian Rights
- National Day and Lesbian Task Force
- PGLAG: Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
- Transgender Law Center
- The Trevor Project
- Youth Resource