Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.
By: Robyn Gee
Foster care youth are three times more likely to end up in jail than to graduate from a four-year college, according to the LA Times. In a time when the education system is failing many American youth, foster care youth don’t have it easy. But for a certain group of foster care youth, it's hard enough just to find a family.
According to Family Builders, LGBTQ youth are over-represented in the foster care system and face a large amount of discrimination when they disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity. 33 percent, in fact, are rejected from their families when this happens, according to Family Builders, which is an organization in Oakland, CA working to connect foster youth with families.
Mother Jones reported last year that many foster parents refuse to accept a gay young person. But when you take in a young person at age two, there’s no way of knowing whether they are gay, straight, bisexual, or transgender. Jill Jacobs, executive director of Family Builders, said that there is no screening process for whether a family is homophobic.
“The Foster Care system is bifurcated by gender in the first place,” said Jacobs, meaning that in group home situations, girls and boys are separated. “Many kids that don’t fit gender norms. That’s challenged to begin with. … Often, they’re the last to be considered for families,” she added. “These are the children that need a family the most,” said Jacobs.
In Oakland, Family Builders works to get LGBTQ foster youth in safe, healthy homes. A lot of the families they end up working with are same sex families. “More than half of our families are gay families. But it’s not the full responsibility of the gay community to take on these kids. I’d like to push on traditional foster families - most are not welcoming to LGBT youth,” said Jacobs.
Many times young people come to Family Builders after being in difficult situations. "In a way, the LGBT piece is the easy piece. Often foster care youth referred to us are gender variant, but have also been in foster care for a long time. They have behavioral issues, mental health issues, they've been abused, or neglected," said Jacobs.
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