Studies estimate that 5 to 10 percent of the children and youth in foster care identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ);1 however, the actual numbers may be much higher as youth in this population may not feel comfortable enough to disclose their sexual orientation. Therefore, increasing the awareness, knowledge, and skills of social workers and administrators in the child welfare system to effectively meet the needs of LGBTQ youth and their families is of critical importance. These youth face unique challenges—from familial rejection due to their sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender identity to possible discrimination and abuse while in care. Find resources in this section related to behavioral health concerns and building cultural competence as it relates to working with LGBTQ children and youth involved with child welfare.
A Glimpse Within: An Exploratory Study of Child Welfare Agencies' Practices and LGBTQ Youth
Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, 21(4)
Presents findings from a national survey of agency members of the Child Welfare League of America with respect to organizational culture and service delivery for LGBTQ youth.
Aspects of Psychological Resilience Among Transgender Youth (PDF - 216 KB)
Grossman, D'augelli, & Frank (2011)
Journal of LGBT Youth, 8(2)
Describes 55 transgender youth's gender development and some of the stressful life experiences related to their gender identity and gender expression.
IMPACT, Special Issue: Culture and Trauma
Henkel & Culverwell (Eds.) (2012), Spring Issue
National Child Traumatic Stress Network
Describes how child-serving professionals can come to understand the cultural characteristics of those they are serving. The newsletter highlights the work being done to address the cultural dimensions of trauma at multiple levels, including the individual (client and practitioner), the organization or system, and the broader community. Articles address preventing youth suicide in Montana's Indian country; a Chicago program that has united clergy to address urban violence; guidelines for working with LGBTQ youth to allow them to disclose abuse; and a program that provides bilingual and bicultural services to traumatized Spanish-speaking immigrant families.
Promoting Cultural Diversity and Cultural and Linguistic Competency: Self-Assessment Checklist for Personnel Providing Services and Supports to LGBTQ Youth and Their Families (PDF - 53 KB)
Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development, National Center for Cultural Competence (2012)
Presents a self-assessment checklist to heighten the awareness and sensitivity of professionals to the importance of cultural diversity and cultural competence when assisting LGBTQ youth and their families.
Recommended Practices to Promote the Safety and Well-Being of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth and Youth at Risk of or Living With HIV in Child Welfare Settings
Child Welfare League of America (2012)
Provides guidance to the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), State and local child welfare agencies, and their contract providers on how to fulfill their professional and legal obligations to ensure safe and proper care consistent with the best interest and special needs of each and every LGBTQ child receiving child welfare services.
Working With Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning/Queer Youth (PDF - 971 KB)
Minnesota Department of Human Services (2012)
Discusses child welfare services for LGBTQ youth and their families and is designed to increase the awareness, knowledge, and skills of child welfare social workers and administrators so they may effectively and competently meet the needs of LGBTQ youth and their families.
1The estimate comes from the assumption that 5–10 percent of the general population is LGBT. John C. Gonsiorek & James D. Weinrich, “The Definition and Scope of Sexual Orientation,” in Homosexuality: Research Implications for Public Policy (Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, 1991); Courtney, Dworsky, Lee, and Raap, (2009) found a much higher percentage of youth in foster care who identified as something other than fully heterosexual (see https://www.aecf.org/resources/midwest-evaluation-of-the-adult-functioning-of-former-foster-youth/).