LGBTQ+ & Two-Spirit youth

Are LGBTQ2S+ Youth in Foster Care Legally Protected from Discrimination?


"Name calling was happening in the group home but nothing was done about it."

-- LGBTQ2S+ alumni of care

There are no federal policies protecting youth in care from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

TL:DR--Are LGBTQ2S+ youth legally protected from discrimination while in foster care?

  • States are in charge of whether they want to have nondiscrimination policies for LGBTQ2S+ youth in foster care.
  • Not all states have protections, and some only have partial protections in place.
  • You can engage in advocacy to change this in your state!

Due to a 2020 Supreme Court decision (Bostock v Clayton County), LGBTQ2S+ individuals are protected from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity when it comes to employment, healthcare, education, and housing1. Unfortunately, youth in foster care aren't protected from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity with the Supreme Court decision. 

But youth in foster care are still federally protected from discrimination, right? Unfortunately, no. Instead, these important protections are left up to individual states. Currently:

  • Only 36 states, 1 territory, and DC have policies in place that prohibit the child welfare system from discrimination against youth based on the youth's sexual orientation and gender identity
  • 8 states prohibit discrimination based on only sexual orientation
  • 7 states and 4 territories have nothing in place regarding discrimination based on a youth's sexual orientation or gender identity2

What does this mean? The state a youth resides in can greatly impact the protection from discrimination a queer youth faces due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity while in the child welfare system. 

What can you do?

  • Caseworkers + advocates + professionals: Encourage your companies to create their own anti-discrimination policies that protect a youth regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Kinship Caregivers + foster/resource families: Practice inclusivity within your own home! Talk with queer youth in your care about ways you can help them feel validated and safe in the home and community. Advocate for your youth with caseworkers + professionals to engage in anti-discriminatory practices.
  • Everyone: Contact your representatives and senators and tell them to protect queer youth in care! Urge them to pass laws that prohibit discrimination based on a youth's sexual orientation or gender identity--they listen to you!
    • You can use the resource here to find your representatives and senators
    • For tips on writing your representative(s) or senator(s), see the resource here

Together, we can fight and create a better future for LGBTQ2S+ youth in foster care.

See what our LEx are saying on this topic! LEx Leaders Speak on the Importance of Nondiscrimination Protections in Foster Care


1How the Impact of Bostock v. Clayton County on LGBTQ Rights Continues to Expand

2Foster and Adoption Laws: LGBTQ Youth in Child Welfare

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