LGBTQ+ Rights

LGBTQ+ young people are over-represented in government service systems, where they are more likely to experience discrimination, abuse, and neglect. Children’s Rights is fighting for laws and policies that ensure all LGBTQ+ youth have explicit non-discrimination protections and equitable access to affirming services and supports.

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Key Facts

THE ISSUE

A disproportionate number of the over 400,000 kids in the foster system identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and questioning (LGBTQ+). They are young people of color and from low-income families. Systemic racism, discrimination, and poverty disproportionately drive LGBTQ+ youth out of their homes and communities and into child welfare systems.

My heart goes out to all the people who live in homes that aren’t accepting right now. They can’t be themselves freely.”

-Jessie, Georgia, Fostering Inequity Report

Once in the system, LGBTQ+ youth are more likely to experience discrimination, abuse, and neglect. At times, they’re subjected to dangerous attempts to change their orientation or gender identity, including so-called “conversion therapy,” which has been debunked by the medical community and banned outright in a number of states. Trans, Nonbinary, and Gender Diverse (TNGD) youth are particularly targeted by systems that often reject their very identities.

There has been a rapid increase in state legislators’ introducing bills targeting LGBTQ+ children, with the majority aiming to restrict TNGD youth’s access to health care or prevent them from joining the sports team of their choice. The threat these bills pose, even when they do not become law, causes mental distress for children and has prompted some families to leave their states to protect their children.

Another wave of discriminatory legislation, bolstered by a narrow Supreme Court ruling in 2021, is allowing states broad license to discriminate against same-sex couples and people of minority faiths who wish to foster, adopt, or mentor a child. America already has a shortage of available families to care for children entering state systems. Narrowing the number of qualified and safe parents harms thousands of LGBTQ+ and other children by denying them a loving home. LGBTQ+ youth deserve equal protections and resources to ensure their health and stability.

Children’s Rights uses a blend of strategic advocacy, training, public awareness initiatives, and coalition building to address the discrimination and abuse that LGBTQ+ youth face in government systems and beyond. Our reports expose the lack of legal protections for LGBTQ+ and TNGD youth, especially for LGBTQ+ youth in child welfare systems. We are training local nonprofits and state agencies to advocate effectively on behalf of the youth they serve, and working to improve laws and practices that impact LGBTQ+ youth.

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