Neglect of this Population by Child Welfare

The office of planning, Research and Evaluation Administration for Children and
Families, U.S Department of Health and Human Services acknowledged in its
January 2013 publication The Economic Well-Being of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual
Youth Transitioning Out of Foster Care (Dworsky A.) that “state child welfare
agencies do not routinely track the sexual orientation of youth in foster care, and
the kind of population-based studies needed to estimate the percentage of youth in
foster care who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual have not been conducted”.
The brief described characteristics and economic well-being of young people aging
out of foster care who identified themselves as LGBT and compared their
characteristics and economic self-sufficiency to that of their heterosexual peers
aging out of care.
Summary of findings:
 5 to 10 percent of youth in foster care openly identify as LGBT, although the
actual percentage is probably higher due to lack of disclosure
 LGB youth find it more difficult to achieve economic self-sufficiency
because: 1) They are often victims of harassment, discrimination, or even
physical violence perpetrated by foster parents, group care staff, or peers;
some of these young people have been rejected by their families because of
their sexual orientation. These two experiences cause many to run from their
placement to live on the streets where they feel safer. 2) LGB youth in foster
care may be adversely affected by inappropriate or frequent placement
changes. This instability may preclude the development of permanent
connections to supportive adults, limit the receipt of life-skills training, and
interfere with school completion.
 Young women made up more than two-thirds of the LGB group compared
with only half of the heterosexual group

 The analysis suggested that LGB youth aging out of foster care may be at
significant risk of not achieving self-sufficiency as they transition to
adulthood.
Multiple studies (Ceres Policy Research Study; Study Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention of LGBT Health; Youth Risk Behavior Study; National Alliance for Lesbian Rights:
Advocates for Youth)
 9 out of 10 LGBT youth experience harassment at school
 LGBT teens and young adults, as a result of experiencing hostility, rejection,
and violence, are: 6 times more likely to have high levels of depression; 8
times more likely to attempt suicide; 3 times more likely to use illegal drugs;
3 times more likely to engage in unprotected sexual behaviors