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

Date: January 2023

Rights of LGBTQIA2S+ Youth in Foster Care

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 19-7-101; Div. of Youth Serv., Policy S 13.9

Youth in foster care are entitled to fair and equal access to available services, placement, care, treatment, and benefits based on their treatment plan and not being subjected to discrimination or harassment based on actual or perceived race, ethnic group, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, mental or physical disability, or HIV status.

In policy: Youth centers provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment. Employees, contractors, or volunteers of a youth center shall not prohibit or discourage communication or interaction of youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and intersex (LGBTQI) solely based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Employees, volunteers, and contractors shall not refer to youth by using derogatory language in a manner that conveys bias towards or hatred of people who identify as LGBTQI. Employees shall not imply or directly state that such youth are abnormal, deviant, sinful, or that they can or should change their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Consistent with State law and regulations, it is the policy of the Division of Youth Services to respect and maintain the privacy of all youth and to protect their information; this includes information about sexual orientation and gender identity.

Supports for LGBTQIA2S+ Youth in Care

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 12-240-104; 12-240-121; Div. of Youth Serv., Policy S 13.9

'Conversion therapy' means any practice or treatment by a licensed physician specializing in the practice of psychiatry that attempts or purports 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 attraction or feelings toward individuals of the same sex. Engaging in conversion therapy with a patient who is under age 18 is regarded as unprofessional conduct.

In policy: All youth who identify as transgender or intersex require special consideration to address individual circumstances and shall be referred to the collaborative review team (CRT) for determination of the following:

  • Placement in a gender-based unit or transfer to a youth center based on gender identity
  • The wearing of a uniform (other than undergarments) that is consistent with their self-identified gender
  • The use of a preferred first name and pronouns that match their gender identity rather than their legal name

When decided by the CRT team, youth who identify as transgender or intersex shall be referred to by their preferred name and pronouns that reflects their gender identity, even if their name has not been legally changed. All written documentation about youth who identify as transgender or intersex shall use the youth's preferred name as well as note the youth's legal name recognized by the court.

When a youth identifies as transgender or intersex, the youth center shall offer the youth access to licensed medical and behavioral health-care providers who are knowledgeable about their health-care needs.

If, prior to arriving at the youth center, a youth who identifies as transgender has been receiving gender-related medical and/or behavioral health care, such as hormone therapy or supportive counseling, the youth center will collaborate with the youth's medical and behavioral health-care provider to provide the youth with all gender-related treatments that are medically necessary. Hormone therapy may continue at current levels pending this consultation.

In accordance with accepted health-care practices that recognize that attempting to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity is harmful, the youth center shall not employ or contract with medical or mental health providers who attempt to change a youth's sexual orientation or gender identity.

Placement Considerations

Citation: Div. of Youth Serv., Policy S 13.9

Youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning shall not be prohibited from having a roommate based on the youth's actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Youth who identify as LGBTQI shall not be placed in seclusion as a means of keeping them safe from discrimination, harassment, or abuse.

Youth who identify as transgender shall not automatically be housed according to their sex at birth. Employees shall make housing decisions on a case-by-case basis for youth who identify as transgender, taking into consideration the youth's perception of the most secure placement and whether the placement would present management or security issues.

To ensure privacy and safety, youth who identify as transgender and intersex shall be provided a single room on the unit.


Caregiver Qualifications

Citation: Div. of Youth Serv., Policy S 13.9

Employees shall model positive behavior when interacting with all youth and remind all youth that anti-LGBTQI threat of violence, actual violence, or disrespectful or suggestive comments or gestures will not be tolerated.

All employees shall receive training on how to communicate effectively and professionally with youth who identify as LGBTQI. Training shall be provided during preservice and annual inservice training sessions, in accordance with the division's training policy.


Citation: Div. of Youth Serv., Policy S 13.9

The following definitions apply:

  • 'Bisexual' refers to a person who is emotionally, romantically, and sexually attracted to both males and females.
  • 'Gay' refers to a person whose emotional, romantic, and sexual attractions are primarily for individuals of the same sex, typically in reference to males, but women can also expressly identify themselves as gay. In some contexts, it is still used as a general term for gay men and lesbian women.
  • 'Gender dysphoria' is a diagnosable medical condition in which an individual has a strong and persistent cross-gender identification, which is the desire to be, or the insistence that one is, of the opposite sex, as well as a persistent discomfort about one's assigned sex at birth or a sense of inappropriateness in the gender role of that sex. To be diagnosed, the individual must be evidencing clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
  • 'Gender expression' refers to an individual's way of reflecting and expressing their gender to the outside world, typically demonstrated through appearance, dress, and behavior.
  • 'Gender identity' refers to an individual's innate sense of their own gender, which may or may not correspond with their sex assigned at birth.
  • 'Gender nonconforming' refers to gender characteristics and/or behaviors that do not conform to those typically associated with a person's sex at birth.
  • 'Intersex' is a term used to refer to an individual born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that does not conform exclusively to male or female norms in terms of physiological sex. This may include variations of genetics, genital or reproductive structures, or hormones.
  • 'Lesbian' describes a woman whose emotional, romantic, and sexual attractions are primarily for other females.
  • 'Questioning' refers to an active process in which a person explores their own sexual orientation and/or gender identity and questions the cultural assumptions that they are heterosexual and/or gender conforming.
  • 'Sexual orientation' is term describing a person's emotional, romantic, and sexual attraction, whether it is for members of the same sex or a different sex.
  • 'Transgender' is an umbrella term that can be used to describe people whose gender expression is nonconforming and/or whose gender identity is different from their sex at birth, regardless of whether they have changed their biological or hormonal characteristics. A diagnosis of gender dysphoria is not required to be considered transgender.