Every youth in foster care deserves equal and equitable care, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Why it matters

LGBTQ2S+ youth often encounter discriminatory and inequitable treatment in the foster care system simply due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Improved policies and practices are not just important, but essential, and are most effective when led by LGBTQ2S+ LEx Leaders who have firsthand experience within the system. These targeted improvements serve to provide queer identifying youth with the specific support and protection they rightfully deserve.

Quick Facts

  • Over 30% of youth in foster care identify as LGBTQ2S+, compared to 10% of the general population (source)

  • LGBTQ2S+ youth are twice as likely to report discrimination, and even more likely if they are Black or Brown (source).

  • In a 2019 FosterClub poll of LGBTQ2S+ youth, only 36% of youth agreed that they had an adult role model who affirmed their LGBTQ2S+ identity.

  • In the same poll, 75% of youth reported hearing negative messaging about their identities.

“Stopping youth from the ability to be in a loving family kind of defeats the purpose of why we have a foster care system.”

— Daysha, age 26, spent time in the Michigan foster care system

Want to Learn More?

LGBTQ2S+ Youth in the Foster Care System from Human Rights Campaign and FosterClub

LGBTQ in Child Welfare from the Annie E. Casey Foundation

How can child welfare agencies effectively support LGBTQ+ youth in care? from Casey family Programs

How we're working on this issue

Speaking with Federal Officials About SOGI Data Collection

LGBTQ2S+ FosterClub LEx leaders often meet with federal officials to discuss their experiences related to sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) while in foster care. Conversations range from whether youth feel safe disclosing their SOGI, to the impact of coming out during their time in foster care.

Advocate for Laws to Fight Discrimination by Agencies

LGBTQ2S+ FosterClub LEx Leaders often engage with a coalition of national organizations focused on supporting LGBTQ2S+ youth and families in foster care. For example, upon learning about a new federal rule aimed at preventing discrimination against LGBTQ2S+ individuals by federal agencies, LEx Leaders got together and shared their insights. Their expertise underscored the importance of anti-discrimination protections in ensuring the well-being and success of LGBTQ2S+ youth within the foster care system.

Contributing to Government Reports

LEx leaders collaborated with the Government Accountability Office staff to share their personal experiences in foster care, specifically focusing on LGBTQ2S+ identity and religious experiences. Their input informed a comprehensive report that scrutinized the conditions facing young people in the foster care system. The report offered actionable recommendations for states, suggesting the importance of data collection, the implementation of nondiscrimination policies, and enhanced training for child welfare professionals to better support LGBTQ2S+ youth.

"As a bisexual biracial youth, I noticed that a lot of caregivers and staff don’t have a lot of training around handling LGBTQ2S+ youth. I feel like their personal opinions get involved and make it more complicated… So creating more training and creating more transparency will move things forward.”

— Keyona, age 22, spent time in the Arizona foster care system

Blogs on LGBTQ2S+ Youth


LEx Leaders Speak on the Importance of Nondiscrimination Protections in Foster Care

“Care shouldn’t be conditional, regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity.” — Keona Rose LEx leaders Daysha Reed (NC) and Keona Rose (AZ) met with the Every Child Deserves a Family Campaign this month to discuss the importance of federal nondiscrimination policies in child welfare! Some key takeaways from the meeting included: LGBTQ2S+ adults should not be discriminated against...

LGBTQ+ & Two-Spirit youth

White House pledges to support LGBTQ2S+ youth in foster care!

We are pleased to share the statement from President Biden and Vice President Harris in celebration of Pride month! The statement includes new actions that federal agencies are taking to support LGBTQ2S+ communities and youth across the nation, many of which have been recommended by our LEx leaders! FosterClub, and specifically our #FosterEquality campaign is thrilled to see the incorporation...

LGBTQ+ & Two-Spirit youth

Practice Improvement: Supporting Transition Planning

The Family First Act (FFA), passed in 2018, sought to respond to the needs of transition age youth in foster care. Given that LGBTQIA2S+ youth in foster care are at an i ncreased risk of aging out of foster care 1, it is important for supportive adults in a queer young person’s life to understand the best way to support...

LGBTQ+ & Two-Spirit youth
Transition (aging out)

Policy Corner: Understanding Family First Act's Impact on LGBTQIA2S+ Older Youth in Foster Care

Queer youth in foster care are at an increased risk of aging out of foster care 1. On average, one in four youth who age out of foster care will become homeless within four years 2. LGBTQIA2S+ youth are at an increased risk of experiencing homelessness 3. By supporting services to youth transitioning out of foster care, FFA helps ensure...

LGBTQ+ & Two-Spirit youth
Transition (aging out)

Supporting Older LGBTQIA2S+ Youth in Foster Care

LGBTQIA2S+ foster youth are more likely to age out of the foster care system than their heterosexual peers. Youth aging out of the system deserve to have help during this huge transition in their lives. This resource is part of a larger series on how to support older LGBTQIA2S+ as they transition into adulthood. What do youth think is the...

LGBTQ+ & Two-Spirit youth

Transition Planning with Older LGBTQIA2S+ Youth

LGBTQIA2S+ youth in foster care are more likely to age out of the foster care system than their heterosexual peers. Youth aging out of the system deserve to have help during this huge transition in their lives. “When we are in foster care, all of our major basic needs are met almost automatically. Our healthcare-related needs are generally met without...

LGBTQ+ & Two-Spirit youth

This work is supported by: