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Meeting LGBTQIA+ Youth in Care Where They Are

LGBTQIA+ people and allies all over the world are marking this 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. 

In June of 1969, a police riot at the Stonewall Wall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City, instigated five nights of unrest and is credited for rousing the LGBTQIA+ rights movement as we know it today. The initial riot at Stonewall was a response to the commonplace, continuous and often violent police raids on gay establishments, most resulting in arrests for being openly gay. The violence, however, impelled more activism by the gay community. Stonewall laid the foundation for what we celebrate as PRIDE today.

Cities like Philadelphia, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, with strong, vocal and uncloseted LGBTQIA+ cultures have been essential in the equality fight for the LGBTQIA+ community. Philadelphia, where A Second Chance, Inc., is a provider of kinship care services, is a city with tremendous resources for this marginalized population, as well as an even further marginalized population: LGBTQIA+ youth in the child welfare system.

Data clearly demonstrates that LGBTQIA+ youth involved with the child welfare system are at especially high risk of negative outcomes. In kinship care, where the family dynamic drives empowerment, valuing families means valuing their perspective on LGBTQIA+ family and providing them with resources to address what could be a new dynamic for the kinship caregiver, birth parent and child/youth. Most families celebrate events, work through challenges and circumvent obstacles privately. System involvement, however, removes this privacy. As a result, LGBTQIA+-related situations are brought out in the open for the first time without acknowledging the family’s system involvement.   

Both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have been hubs of LGBTQIA+ strength and activism for decades. Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, in fact, was the site of one of the first gay rights protests in our nation’s history prior to Stonewall, which got us thinking: What lessons can the city’s progress and current practices teach the child welfare system about LGBTQIA+ youth and how to ensure these extremely vulnerable kids are safe and can thrive, both inside and outside their placement homes, in environments that may be fraught with bigotry or even just indifference?

Leigh Braden—CEO and lead consultant at LTB Consulting LLC, as well as a prominent and very active LGBTQIA+ advocate in Philadelphia, a consultant for ASCI and a foster parent—sat down with agency leaders to attempt to answer these intimidating but crucial questions. From social workers, kinship caregivers and foster parents to child welfare administrators, Leigh’s insights and years in the field are a valuable asset to anyone serving young people who identify as LGBTQIA+. Visit our site to access Leigh’s exclusive Q&A.

Click here for international, national and local resources for LGBTQIA+ youth.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of A Second Chance, Inc.

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