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

Date:

Rights of LGBTQIA2S+ Youth in Foster Care

Citation: DCF Pol. Man. § CPP-VI-B-1-500

In policy: This issuance establishes policy and procedures for the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) Division of Child Protection and Permanency (CP&P) to provide and ensure a safe, healthy, and inclusive environment for all the children, youth, and families it serves. This policy applies to every child, youth, and/or family member(s) who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and intersex (LGBTQI).

CP&P staff and DCF-contracted providers are prohibited from engaging in any form of discrimination, bias, or harassment based on race, ethnicity, creed, color, age, sex, national origin, religion, marital status or partnership, mental or physical disability, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, veteran status, and alienage and citizenship status.

CP&P staff and DCF-contracted providers are prohibited from attempting to persuade an LGBTQI individual to reject or modify their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. This includes imposing personal or religious beliefs.

CP&P staff and DCF-contracted providers are prohibited from attempting to pressure or coerce a LGBTQI person into disclosing or revealing their sexual orientation or gender identity. CP&P does not tolerate harassment, intimidation, or bullying of any kind. Bullying includes any behavior (written, verbal, physical, or electronic) that would be reasonably perceived as harmful to another person.

CP&P allows all youth to request the use of a preferred first name rather than their legal name. Consistent with this policy, individuals may designate a preferred first name that they wish to use. Individuals also are referred to by the pronouns that they prefer that reflects their identity or expression. Staff will understand the concept of the choice of a preferred name and/or pronouns that are consistent with the youth's gender identity.

Supports for LGBTQIA2S+ Youth in Care

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 45:1-55; DCF Pol. Man. § CPP-VI-B-1-500

A person who is licensed to provide professional counseling, including, but not limited to, a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, psychoanalyst, or a person who performs counseling as part of the person's professional training for any of these professions, shall not engage in sexual orientation change efforts with a person under age 18.

'Sexual orientation change efforts' means the practice of seeking to change a person's sexual orientation, including, but not limited to, efforts to change behaviors, gender identity, or gender expressions or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward a person of the same gender.

In policy: As appropriate, staff are responsible for making referrals for counseling, health, mental health, or other services, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. If an individual discloses that they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning, the child, youth, and/or family member(s) are offered the opportunity for counseling and information to support the individual and family, if needed. Referrals are made to community-based providers who demonstrate cultural competence in working with LGBTQI individuals. Individuals who identify as being LGBTQI do not necessarily need counseling or other services. Workers will understand that being LGBTQI does not equate to having a mental illness or the necessity to be referred for mental health services.

Placement Considerations

Citation: DCF Pol. Man. § CPP-VI-B-1-500

CP&P must place a child or youth who enters foster care and identifies as LGBTQI in a LGBTQI-affirming out-of-home placement.

Caregiver Qualifications

Citation: DCF Pol. Man. § CPP-VI-B-1-500

CP&P must make ongoing efforts to recruit, train, monitor, evaluate, and retain resource parents or caregivers who are LGBTQI affirming.

Definitions

Citation: DCF Pol. Man. § CPP-VI-B-1-500

The terms used in this policy are defined as follows:

  • 'Bisexual' refers to a person who is attracted to and may form sexual and romantic relationships with either men or women.
  • 'Bullying' means intentional, unprovoked attempts to cause physical or emotional harm to one or more targets that create an imbalance of physical and/or psychological power between target and perpetrator.
  • 'Gay' generally refers to a person who is emotionally, romantically, and sexually attracted to people of the same gender. Sometimes, it may be used to refer to men and boys, whereas 'lesbian' is used to refer exclusively to women and girls. It is preferred over the term 'homosexual,' which is often considered offensive.
  • 'Gender expression' refers to the manner in which a person represents or expresses their gender to others through gender markers, including clothing, hairstyle, behavior, activities, interests, attitudes, voice inflection, mannerisms, etc.
  • 'Gender identity' refers to an individual's internal view of their gender. It is one's innermost sense of being a man or woman or of having another gender (e.g., being 'genderfluid'). This often influences name and pronoun preferences.
  • 'Intersex' refers to a person who is born with (or develops naturally, not because of medical treatment) a combination of chromosomes, gonads, hormones, internal reproductive organs, external genitalia, and secondary sex characteristics that include some characteristics that are typically considered 'male' and some characteristics that are typically considered 'female.' The term 'hermaphrodite' is an outdated and offensive term for intersex individuals.
  • 'Lesbian' refers to a woman who is emotionally, romantically, and sexually attracted to other women.
  • 'LGBTQI' is an acronym commonly used to refer collectively to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and intersex individuals, issues, or communities.
  • 'Sexual orientation' refers to a person's emotional, romantic, and sexual attraction to persons of the same and/or different gender.
  • 'Transgender' or 'trans' is used as an umbrella term to include all persons whose gender identity or expression does not align with their sex assigned at birth in the way expected by their society. For purposes of protection from discrimination and harassment, transgender refers to both self-described transgender individuals and individuals perceived as transgender or gender nonconforming without regard to whether they qualify for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria.
  • 'Questioning' generally refers to a person who is exploring or questioning issues of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in their life.