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

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Rights of LGBTQIA2S+ Youth in Foster Care

Citation: Code of Rules Tit. 18, § 441.24; Admin. Dir. 15-OCFS-ADM-18

Authorized agency staff and volunteers shall not engage in or condone discrimination or harassment against children in foster care or any family members being served by the agency based on race, creed, color, national origin, age, sex, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, or disability.

In policy: A youth in foster care has the right to be treated fairly and with respect and to receive care and services that are free of discrimination based on sex, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.

Supports for LGBTQIA2S+ Youth in Care

Citation: Educ. Law Tit. 8, § 6509-e; Code of Rules Tit. 18, § 441.24

'Sexual orientation change efforts' means any practice by a mental health professional that seeks to change an individual's sexual orientation, including, but not limited to, efforts to change behaviors, gender identity, or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings towards individuals of the same sex. It shall be professional misconduct for a mental health professional to engage in sexual orientation change efforts upon any patient younger than age 18.

In regulation: Authorized agencies shall promote and maintain a safe environment; take reasonable steps to prevent discrimination and harassment against youth by other youth; promptly investigate incidents of discrimination and harassment by staff, volunteers, and youth; and take reasonable and appropriate corrective or disciplinary action when such incidents occur.

Placement Considerations

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

Caregiver Qualifications

Citation: Code of Rules Tit. 18, § 441.24; Foster Care Practice Guide

Certified or approved foster parents shall not engage in discrimination or harassment against children in foster care or any family members being served by the agency based on age, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression and shall promote and maintain a safe environment.

From the practice guide: Social services staff should affirm the sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression (SOGIE) of the children in care whom they serve and be trained to do the following:

  • Consistently enforce policies prohibiting teasing, bullying, harassment, or violence based on actual or perceived SOGIEs
  • Know the differences between sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation
  • Be familiar with SOGIE terms and how to use them appropriately, keeping in mind that SOGIE terms are subject to change over time
  • Never presume the sexual orientation or gender identity of others
  • Respectfully initiate conversations with children, youth, and adults about their SOGIE with the goal of identifying who might need SOGIE-specific services
  • Be prepared to meet the needs of children, youth, and adults as whole people with complex identities
  • Navigate SOGIE disclosure
  • Protect SOGIE confidentiality
  • Educate and support parents, guardians, and families and help them to understand that sexual orientation and gender identity are not a choice

The only way to know other people's sexual orientation or gender identity is if they tell you. Disclosure is a very personal choice. Children, youth, and adults may not feel comfortable disclosing their SOGIE out of fear of rejection and/or lack of safety. A person is more likely to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity to staff when they are in an affirming environment.

Definitions

Citation: Code of Rules Tit. 18, § 441.24

For purposes of this section, the term 'gender identity or expression' means having or being perceived as having a gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior, or expression regardless of whether that gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior, or expression is different from that traditionally associated with the sex assigned to that person at birth. 'Gender identity' refers to a person's internal sense of self as male, female, no gender, or another gender, and 'gender expression' refers to the way a person expresses his or her gender through clothing, appearance, behavior, speech, and other means.