Protecting the Rights and Providing Appropriate Services to LGBTQIA2S+ Youth in Out-of-Home Care - Virginia

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Rights of LGBTQIA2S+ Youth in Foster Care

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 22, § 40-211-80; Child and Family Ser. Man., Part E, § 17.14

The foster care provider shall provide care that does not discriminate based on race, color, sex, national origin, age, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, or family status.

In policy: All youth in foster care deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and be placed in an affirming environment that will support safety, permanency, and well-being. This is often more difficult for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) youth due to biases and discrimination among placement providers and service providers. Service workers play an important role in ensuring that the needs of LGBTQ youth are consistently met. Service workers should do the following:

  • Explore their own beliefs and practice affirming language.
  • Be prepared to respond in a positive, supportive, and affirming manner should a youth disclose an LGBTQ identity.
  • Avoid making assumptions about the youth's LGBTQ identity based on the youth's appearance or stereotypes.
  • Protect the youth's confidentiality by treating the youth's decision to disclose as sensitive information and do not disclose information about a youth's LGBTQ identity without the youth's consent unless disclosure is necessary to comply with State or Federal law or required by court order.
  • Ask the youth to share the name and pronouns that they would like others to use when referring to them and ask those in the youth's life to use them.
  • Ensure the youth can access the natural supports that they have identified.

Supports for LGBTQIA2S+ Youth in Care

Citation: Ann. Code § 54.1-2409.5; Child and Family Ser. Man., Part E, § 17.14

'Conversion therapy' means any practice or treatment that seeks to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender. No person licensed pursuant to this subtitle or who performs counseling as part of their training shall engage in conversion therapy with a person under age 18.

In policy: Service workers should do the following:

  • Permit the youth to buy and wear clothing that is consistent with their gender identity and expression.
  • Apply the same grooming rules and restrictions regarding hair, makeup, shaving, etc. equally to all youth, regardless of LGBTQ identity.
  • Permit transgender and gender-nonconforming youth to use approved forms of personal grooming consistent with their gender identity and gender expression.
  • Identify and make referrals to service providers that are educated in working with LGBTQ youth.
  • Ensure youth receive developmentally appropriate sexual and reproductive health services.
  • Work with the youth's school to address the use of names and pronouns, clothing and grooming options, bathroom and locker room use, and participation in athletics and other sex-segregated activities.
  • Become familiar with resources in the community for LGBTQ youth and connect youth to all available resources.
  • Provide support and resources to the youth's school, family, placement provider, and anyone else identified by the youth.

The service provider must ensure that everyone working with the youth is accepting of the youth and does not attempt to change the youth's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Conversion therapy and any other treatment intended to change the youth's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression is prohibited.

The service provider also must ensure that LGBTQ youth have access to health-care providers who are knowledgeable about LGBTQ health issues and capable of inclusive and affirming conversations about a youth's health-care needs. This includes ensuring that transgender youth have access to necessary transition-related treatment, as determined based on their individual needs by qualified medical personnel familiar with the relevant standards of care.

Placement Considerations

Citation: Child and Family Ser. Man., Part E, § 17.14

Service workers should do the following:

  • Consult with the youth during the placement process to ensure that the team can work cohesively to identify a safe and affirming placement that will achieve permanency.
  • Regularly evaluate the youth's overall safety, including consultation with the youth, as it relates to their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in terms of placement, emotional, and physical well-being.

Caregiver Qualifications

Citation: Child and Family Ser. Man., Part E, § 17.14

Service workers should do the following:

  • Seek placements in families that provide a safe and affirming environment.
  • Provide support and resources to the youth's school, family, placement provider, and anyone else identified by the youth.
  • Promptly and appropriately intervene when a youth faces physical, verbal, or sexual abuse or harassment based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Definitions

This issue is not addressed in the laws and policies reviewed.