More data needed on LGBTQ youth of color in child welfare, juvenile justice systems

LOS ANGELES — A collection of working papers at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law found this week there is a lack of knowledge about LGBTQ youth of color in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems

The Williams Institute conducts research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy. “We lack rigorous data on LGBTQ youth in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems and other systems, which prevents us from monitoring the well-being of this vulnerable population over time,” said co-editor Kerith J. Conron, Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Research Director at the Williams Institute, in a press release. In April, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families announced that it will not implement an Obama-era rule that required child welfare departments to gather and report data related to the sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression of youth in the foster care system. “The data collection requirement aimed to improve our understanding of the characteristics and experiences of youth coming in and out of the system,” said co-editor Bianca D.M. Wilson, the Rabbi Barbara Zacky Senior Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute. “With those data, we would be able to analyze whether there are gaps in care, whether there are certain groups experiencing disparities and whether the systems’ efforts to reduce disparities among at-risk youth are effective.”

The Institute said that existing research has found that LGBTQ youth of color are overrepresented in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Structural racism and LGBTQ stigma likely increase the risk of that LGBTQ youth of color will enter these systems. Once in the system, LGBTQ youth of color tend to remain longer and face an elevated risk of discrimination and violence compared to other groups of youth.

New study says Illinois DCFS needs to do more for LGBTQ youth

CHICAGO — The ACLU of Illinois said on Tuesday that a new report by Children & Family Research Center shows the state Department of Children and Family Services needs to do more for LGBTQ youth in its care. The study, the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study, was released in June. The study stated that 21.8% of the youth age 12 to 17 who were interviewed reported an LGBTQ sexual orientation. Despite the small size of this group, LGBTQ youths were significantly more likely to score high on self-report measures of negative mood, bodily concerns, and thought problems, more likely to report often or always hating going to school, and more likely to report having been beat up by an adult at home at some point in their life. 

“We have been anxiously awaiting this report as this was the first time questions concerning sexual orientation and gender identity were added to this important statewide survey,” the ACLU said in a statement. “The ACLU of Illinois worked hard to ensure these questions were included in order to more fully understand the experiences and needs of LGBTQ+ youth in state care.”

Study finds 39% of LGBTQ youth, more than half of transgender and non-binary youth have considered suicide in past year

NEW YORK — The Trevor Project on Tuesday released the results of its inaugural National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health. The survey found that 39 percent of LGBTQ youth surveyed have seriously considered suicide in the past twelve months, with more than half of transgender and non-binary youth having seriously considered suicide. Nearly 1 in 5 LGBTQ youth in this study attempted suicide in the past twelve months, with nearly 1 in 3 transgender and non-binary youth having attempted. The study also found that conversion therapy is impacting LGBTQ youth across the country and putting them at higher risk of negative mental health outcomes. Two out of every three LGBTQ youth report that someone attempted to convince them to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, with youth who have undergone conversion therapy more than twice as likely to attempt suicide as those who did not.

Under the radar: Illinois Senate passed resolution to evaluate DCFS’s care of LGBTQ youth

SPRINGFIELD — In news that managed to go unnoticed with so many bills getting passed last week, the Illinois Senate passed a resolution that directs the state Department of Children and Family Services to evaluate the care provided to LGBTQ children and youth. WMBD-TV, a TV station in Peoria, reported that the resolution, Senate Resolution 403, was passed last Friday. It will require an audit of:

How and with what frequency DCFS and its contractors’ employees are trained on sexual orientation, gender identity, and the requirements of Appendix K
Processes on how queer youth are matched with foster parents and actions taken by DCFS and its contractors requiring foster parents’ commitment to provide care and homes that are affirming
How youth in DCFS care are made aware of their rights and how they can report violations
Existing oversight structure to ensure accountability and corrective actions
Methods on how information about youth gender identity is sought and how this information is maintained and protected
Number of transgender youth who have requested transition-related hormone therapy and consultation services, as well as the qualifications of the staff making determinations

“Too many LGBTQ youth find themselves in the custody of DCFS and where they experience disapproval, discrimination or abuse,” State Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield), SR 403 sponsor, told WMBD. “LGBTQ youth in our state have the legal right to be treated equally and to safely express their sexual orientation and gender identity. We need to make sure youth are always being placed in an affirming household and have access to culturally competent healthcare providers who can get them the health care they need.”

Queer Prom 2019 in Rockford on June 8

ROCKFORD — DiversCity Youth Group in Rockford is holding a Queer Prom on Saturday, June 8. From the Facebook event:
Enjoy a night of dancing, drag performances, refreshments and fun! Come alone, with friends, or bring a companion of your choice. This event is free but don’t forget to RSVP! Register at this Google Form:

Thank you to our amazing sponsors:
– In Youth We Trust Grant
– PFLAG Rockford
– Rockford Public Library
– DJ Krysta
The party starts at 6 p.m.

Indiana school district adds gender identity, orientation to non-discrimination policy after backlash

FISHERS, Ind. — The Hamilton Southeastern Schools school board voted to added gender identity and sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy a week after a backlash of a member’s comments. WFYI, a public radio and TV station in Indianapolis, reported that the policy passed 5-2. The board came under fire after School Board Vice President Sylvia Shepler made comments about sexual orientation and gender identity last month. Shepler had said “rapid onset dysphoria,” apparently referencing the decision to become gay or transgender, is often “seen in clusters” and influenced by students’ peers, social media and media in general during a meeting about a new anti-harassment and discrimination policy.

Maine next state to pass ‘conversion therapy’ ban

PORTLAND, Me. — Maine has become the latest state to move toward banning “conversion therapy.” The Portland Press Herald reported Wednesday that the Maine House of Representatives voted to ban state-licensed counselors from practicing “conversion therapy” to change youths’ sexual orientation. The newspaper said the House passed the bill 91-46, with five Republicans and five independents joining 81 Democrats. It now heads to the State Senate.

Trevor Project announces 24/7 accessible counseling by text or chat

NEW YORK — Last week the Trevor Project announced its text and chat counseling services, TrevorText and TrevorChat, are now available 24/7 for the first time in the organization’s 21-year history. The suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth made the announcement with AT&T Turn Up the Love, the company’s campaign to support and engage LGBTQ people and allies, and media personality and activist Tyler Oakley. Oakley spoke about his moments of feeling hopeless and alone during his youth and explains the chat and text counseling services. The Project said that suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers. “The Trevor Project wants every young LGBTQ person to know that they are never alone and can always reach out to us for help,” said Amit Paley, CEO a executive director of The Trevor Project, in a press release.