LGBTQ+ & Two-Spirit youth

Practice Improvement: What can I (professionals + advocates) do to improve the experience of LGBTQIA2S+ youth in foster care?

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In our last “Practice Improvement'' blog we covered how agencies can improve the experience of LGBTQIA2S+ youth in foster care. This time around, we’re going to build off of that by looking at what you, as an individual agency professional or advocate, can do in your individual work to improve the experience of LGBTQIA2S+ youth in foster care.

What can I (agency professional + advocate) do?

Treat LGBTQIA2S+ youth with respect and competence by avoiding assumptions (such as avoiding assumptions about one’s gender identity or sexual orientation), asking questions about what you don’t know (for example, asking the youth what would help them feel more welcomed in a given space), and treating them how you would any other youth (for some more tips, see here.)

Learn the lingo! Understand LGBTQIA2S+ identifying terms to increase inclusivity, respect, and create an affirming environment for queer youth. (Find a glossary here and here.)

Show unconditional support by respecting youth’s preferences as they share their sexual orientation or gender identity with others (examples: respecting a youth’s wish that you not share that information with others, or aiding them in sharing their sexual orientation and gender identity with others if they request that support), providing positive queer messaging, and connecting them with community resources like local LGBTQIA2S+ affinity groups. (For how to support queer youth, see here. While this resource was created for teachers, there is valuable information in there for anyone who works with queer youth.)

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of ways that agency professionals and advocates can help improve the experiences of queer youth in care, it is a starting point! Keep an eye out on #FosterEquality ``Practice Improvement'' blog posts (coming bi-weekly on Thursdays!) to learn more ways to improve the experience of queer youth in care. We look forward to supporting LGBTQIA2S+ youth in care with you!

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