Foster care, homelessness, and the LGBT community – how does it all connect?

Research has shown the connection between foster care and homelessness – one study found that of more than 800 youth who were homeless in 11 cities — including Omaha — half spent time in foster care. This report also found nearly 30 percent of the homeless youth had identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual and 7 percent identified as transgender.

Our previous Foster Care Month blogs shared some updates and data that can sometimes feel overwhelming – much like these numbers on homelessness. But we are also constantly full of the optimism that comes from working with young adult and foster parent advocates who are using their experiences to lead change in the foster care system.

Through the advocacy of these leaders, a recent court ruling reminds us that important reforms are working. A federal law that protects people from housing discrimination now also specifically protects LGBTQ people as well. When a married couple in Colorado was denied a rental property because of their “unique relationship,” they filed a Fair Housing Act complaint. In April, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, found that the Act’s ban on sex discrimination prohibited discrimination against same sex couples.

Also, with the recent ACLU of Nebraska win that allows gay and lesbian individuals and couples to foster and adopt – these rulings can help lead to more children finding safe and loving homes, and hopefully, less youth with foster care experience, including those who are LGBTQ, facing housing discrimination that could lead to homelessness.

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