Foster Care Friday: LGBTQ+ Identifying Young People

This Foster Care Awareness Month, we are reflecting on the thousands of young people and families affected by Nebraska’s child welfare system, especially those vulnerable to unnecessary system involvement. 

This week’s focus is LGBTQ+ Identifying Young People

LGBTQ+ young people are overrepresented in the child welfare system. 1 in 3 youth in foster care identify as LGBTQ+, which is three times more than their makeup of the general population. This is significantly worse for transgender youth, who are represented in care 5 times more than their makeup of the general population. 

Such high system involvement is due to the rejection many LGBTQ+ young people experience from their families because they are LGBTQ+. This rejection can result in abuse, abandonment, self harm, and being kicked out of their homes, all potentially inciting a child welfare case. 

But once in the system, LGBTQ+ youth are not any safer. They continue to experience harm at horrific rates, especially in foster and group homes who reject or attempt to “correct” their identities through verbal, physical, and sexual harm. 

LGBTQ+ youth in care

  • Are twice as likely to report being harmed in care, including by foster homes, group homes, and other state employees.
  • Experience twice the amount of foster care placements, with almost half reporting they’ve been removed, forced to leave, or ran away from placements due to their identities. 
  • Are twice as likely to be placed in group home settings but then are often forced to isolate for their “protection” or the “protection” of other youth. 

All of the above increase the likelihood of negative mental health experiences like suicidal ideations, with LGBTQ+ youth in care being twice as likely to attempt suicide than their non-LGBTQ+ peers. And of course, such disparate harm is especially felt by LGBTQ+ youth with multiple identities targeted by the system, including those of color, with Native LGBTQ+ youth being especially overrepresented in the system.

Many of these harms are the result of the child welfare system failing to employ foster homes, caregivers, and providers that are safe for LGBTQ+ youth, and in fact, many actively choose to discriminate against them. And with little protections, LGBTQ+ youth are forced to endure it, hide their identities, or run away from care all together. 

Every child deserves to thrive, safely. This harm inflicted on LGBTQ+ youth at home and in care is devastating. We can all do more to ensure these young people feel supported, affirmed, and loved. 

Continue following our social media this Foster Care Awareness Month for more reflections and action. In the meantime, here are resources you can explore to learn more:

Read | Browse: “LGBTQ Youth in the Foster Care System,” Human Rights Campaign & “LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care,” Children’s Rights

Browse | Bookmark: For general resources on supporting LGBTQ+ youth, visit The Trevor Project

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