California state Sen. Scott Wiener (D) has introduced a bill designed specifically to protect LGBTQ+ youth in foster care.
S.B. 407 seeks to require that the unique needs of LGBTQ+ youth are considered when assessing the fitness of home. Under the bill, homes in which potential foster parents are not supportive of LGBTQ+ identities would be considered ineligible to foster.
“Every child deserves to be one hundred percent supported at home,” Wiener told the Los Angeles Blade. “S.B. 407 ensures that foster youth receive this essential support by specifically requiring LGBTQ acceptance be considered in the resource family approval (RFA) process, creating standard documentation for the assessment of LGBTQ youth needs, and ensuring more frequent follow-up. These youth are at high risk for homelessness, criminal justice involvement, and mental health issues, and we must do everything in our power to ensure they have a safe home in the state of California.”
The bill states that at least three studies estimate that approximately thirty percent of youth in foster care identify as LGBTQ+ and that these kids “have a right to be placed in out-of-home care according to their gender identity and the right to have caregivers that have received instruction on cultural competency and sensitivity” regarding caring for LGBTQ+ youth.
It also stated that LGBTQ+ foster youth who are currently being placed with families that do not affirm them are experiencing “additional harm and trauma.” It cites the Trevor Project, which found that teens with parental support for their gender identity were 93% less likely to attempt suicide.
Since 2019, California’s Foster Youth Bill of Rights has included a child’s right to have their LGBTQ+ identity affirmed, as well as the right to keep it private if they want to. But those rights have not yet been applied to the placement process.
“LGBTQ+ foster youth experience violence and other stressors unique to the LGBTQ+ community, including homophobia or transphobia,” Tony Hoang, Executive Director of Equality California, a sponsor of the bill, told the Blade.
“S.B. 407 protects LGBTQ+ foster youth from being placed in non-affirming homes by creating standard guidelines and criteria that carefully screens potential families. LGBTQ+ foster youth need a healthy environment that supports and embraces them as they explore their identity.”