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

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Rights of LGBTQIA2S+ Youth in Foster Care

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 17a-10e; DCF Pol. # 21-16

Any child placed in out-of-home care by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) pursuant to an order of temporary custody or commitment has the right to develop and maintain their own values, hopes, goals, religion, spirituality, and identity, including, but not limited to, racial, sexual and gender identity, in a safe and caring environment.

In policy: DCF has an obligation to ensure fair, equal, and nondiscriminatory treatment of all individuals who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex, asexual, and ally (LGBTQQIAA), in accordance with State laws governing nondiscrimination. The purpose of this policy is to do the following:

  • Ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and/or intersex (LGBTQI) children, youth, and adolescents under the guardianship of DCF receive nondiscriminatory, safe, affirming, and nondetrimental services, including, but not be limited to, mental health, substance abuse, foster care and adoption, and mentoring services
  • Facilitate recruitment and retention of affirming foster or adoptive parent(s) or mentors, and to ensure that all persons, including LGBTQI individuals, are given consideration equal to all other individuals

Supports for LGBTQIA2S+ Youth in Care

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 19a-907; 19a-907a; DCF Pol. # 21-16; Prac. Guide # 21-16PG

'Conversion therapy' means any practice or treatment administered to a person younger than age 18 that seeks to change the person's sexual orientation or gender identity, including, but not limited to, any effort to change gender expression or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attraction or feelings toward persons of the same gender.

No health-care provider shall engage in conversion therapy. The term 'health-care provider' includes a licensed practitioner of the healing arts, occupational therapist, alcohol and drug counselor, nurse, nurse's aide, behavior analyst, psychologist, marriage and family therapist, clinical social worker, professional counselor, genetic counselor, pharmacist, or hypnotist.

In policy: Each DCF area office shall make appropriate referrals to or facilitate services that support the following:

  • Children, youth, and adolescents who are experiencing difficulty with issues of sexual orientation and/or sexual identity
  • Children in foster care who are placed with LGBTQI foster or adoptive families or mentor(s)
  • Foster or adoptive parent(s) or mentor(s)

All DCF staff shall have access to and awareness of LGBTQI training resources for anyone requesting such services.

From the practice guide: DCF will strive to provide access to health-care providers knowledgeable about the needs of all youth, including transgender youth, whenever appropriate. In addition, DCF shall ensure that youth receive care and treatment that are deemed medically necessary, including, but not limited to, puberty blockers, cross€gender hormones, and medically appropriate surgeries. Requests and recommendations for treatment related to gender reassignment must be brought to the DCF Medical Review Board.

Placement Considerations

Citation: DCF Prac. Guide # 21-16PG

All in€ and out€of€State placements should be consistent with and supportive of a transgender or gender-nonconforming youth's gender identity and expression. This means that, for sex€segregated placements, a youth shall be placed based on their gender identity unless there are compelling reasons that this is not in their best interests.

Transgender youth shall not automatically be placed according to their sex assigned at birth. Agency staff shall make placement decisions for transgender youth based on the youth's individualized needs and should prioritize the youth's emotional and physical safety considering the youth's perception of where they will be most secure. Generally, it is most appropriate to place transgender youth based on their gender identity. If necessary to ensure their privacy and safety, transgender youth shall be provided a single room, if available.

The law specifically requires that every contract to which the State is a party shall contain provisions that the contractor will not discriminate based on gender identity and expression (among other protected classes) in the performance of the contract or as an employer. This is to include all licensed foster parents.

The department shall facilitate recruitment and retention of affirming foster or adoptive parent(s) or mentors to ensure that all persons, including LGBTQI individuals, are given consideration fair and equal to all other individuals. No child shall be removed from a biological, foster, or adoptive family based solely on the parent(s)'s gender identity/expression, marital/partner or cohabitation status, or actual or perceived sexual orientation.

Caregiver Qualifications

Citation: DCF Pol. # 21-16; Prac. Guide # 21-16PG

LGBTQI-sensitivity training (taught by someone with expertise in LGBTQI issues) shall be made available through the DCF Academy for Workforce Development on a regular basis or by special request to all DCF employees, foster or adoptive parent(s), and mentor(s).

From the practice guide: DCF employees and contracted providers may request additional training regarding sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. This training is available through DCF's Academy for Workforce Development. In addition, offices and agencies may request onsite training following their current internal protocols.

Definitions

Citation: DCF Prac. Guide # 21-16PG

The terms used in this guide are defined as follows:

  • 'Gender identity or expression' is defined as a person's gender€related identity, appearance, or behavior, regardless of whether that gender€related identity, appearance, or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person's physiology or assigned sex at birth. A person's gender€related identity can be shown by providing evidence, including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of the gender€related identity, consistent and uniform assertion of the gender€related identity, or any other evidence that the gender€related identity is sincerely held, part of a person's core identity, or not being asserted for an improper purpose.
  • 'Sexual orientation' is defined as the direction of one's emotional, romantic, or physical and erotic attraction as well as its expression. Some examples of sexual orientation include the following:
    • Asexuality: Someone who does not experience sexual attraction
    • Bisexuality: Someone who is attracted to both men and women
    • Pansexuality: Someone who is attracted to people regardless of gender and who assumes that there are more than simply two genders
    • Heterosexuality/straight: Someone who is attracted to people of a different gender than themselves
    • Homosexuality/gay or lesbian: Someone who is attracted to people of the same gender, as follows:
      • 'Gay' is primarily used to refer to men who are attracted to other men, though it is also used more globally to represent both gay men and lesbians. Homosexuality is an older term that many gay or lesbian people find offensive.
      • 'Lesbian' is used to describe a woman who is attracted to other women.
  • 'Gender nonconforming' means one who does not subscribe to gender expression or roles imposed by society.
  • 'Gender expression' describes the ways in which individuals communicate their gender to others. People express and interpret gender through hairstyles, clothing, physical expression and mannerism, physical alterations of their body, or by choosing a name that reflects their gender identity.
  • 'Gender binaries' assume that there are only two sexes (male/female) and two genders (man/woman). Some people experience that definition as too narrow or confining and not representative of their experience of themselves. Some of the words that people use to describe this identity include genderqueer, bois, grrls, NB, nonbinary and gender fluid.
  • 'Intersex' is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a chromosomal, reproductive, or sexual anatomy that does not seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. This word replaces 'hermaphrodite.'
  • 'Questioning' describes people (often youth, although not always) who are in the process of questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • 'Sex' is a biological construct that refers to one's internal and external reproductive organs, secondary sex characteristics, and chromosomes. Sex is generally assigned at birth.
  • 'LGBTQI' is an umbrella term for people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and/or intersex.