The foster care system provides services when a child or young person does not have a safe family living situation. Even before the recent onslaught of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and the escalating incidents of hate speech, LGBTQ+ youth were overrepresented in foster care. A 2019 study showed that LGBTQ youth were 2.5 times more likely to enter foster care than their heterosexual and cisgender peers.
A significant proportion of the LGBTQ+ youth who enter the foster care system do so as a result of family conflict over a youth’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Often this conflict involves abuse, a youth running away, and/or a youth being kicked out of their family home. In a 2022 poll by the Trevor Project, 42% of LGBTQ+ youth reported they had stopped speaking to a family member as a result of anti-LGBTQ legislation. And only 38% of LGBTQ youth found their home to be affirming.
For these youth, accepting adults in their lives can serve as a protective factor against sometimes fatal outcomes. A 2019 Trevor Project survey showed that youth who reported having at least one accepting adult in their lives were 40% less likely to have attempted suicide in the past year. In situations where a young person’s family does not provide safety, acceptance, and belonging, the accepting adult may need to be an affirming foster parent.
The extraordinary wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in combination with the sometimes hateful tenor of the national conversation may well lead to increasing family conflict that drives more LGBTQ+ youth into the foster care system. They will need foster parents able to meet their needs with care that affirms their identity and personhood. Might that foster parent be you?
Become a foster parent. Affirming foster parents can be a lifeline for kids who have experienced identity-related trauma. Click here to learn more about becoming a foster parent.