HRC's Ellen Kahn Talks Better Services for LGBTQ Youth in Care

Posted October 23, 2017
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog hrcsellenkahntalksbetter 2017

In Amer­i­ca today, too many young peo­ple end up in fos­ter care after being reject­ed by their fam­i­lies because of their gen­der iden­ti­ty, gen­der expres­sion or sex­u­al orientation.

Enter the Human Rights Cam­paign, which is the nation’s largest civ­il rights orga­ni­za­tion devot­ed to achiev­ing full equal­i­ty for les­bian, gay, bisex­u­al and trans­gen­der Americans.

Ellen Kahn is a nation­al expert, leader and advo­cate for LGBTQ fam­i­lies and the direc­tor of the Human Rights Cam­paign Foun­da­tion’s Chil­dren, Youth and Fam­i­lies Pro­gram. Recent­ly, Kahn spoke to Casey’s Lisa Hamil­ton about why LGBTQ youth are dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly over­rep­re­sent­ed in fos­ter care, what chal­lenges these youth face, how agen­cies and fam­i­lies can step up their sup­port — and more.

A huge thank you to Kahn for shar­ing her thoughts and for her efforts — today and every day — to help sys­tems, com­mu­ni­ties and fam­i­lies become more sup­port­ive of LGBTQ youth.

This Episode Is Avail­able on:

What You’ll Learn in This Episode

  • The three main chal­lenges that LGBTQ youth face.
  • Ways to sup­port LGBTQ youth and their fam­i­lies of origin.
  • Why bet­ter assess­ments are need­ed when plac­ing LGBTQ youth in fos­ter care.
  • The unique role that LGBTQ adults can play in sup­port­ing LGBTQ youth.
  • What child wel­fare agen­cies can do to help meet the needs of LGBTQ youth.

Con­ver­sa­tion Clips

In Ellen Kahn’s own words…

Most of us need edu­ca­tion. We don’t know that much about what it’s like to be LGBTQ. We don’t know what our kids are facing…”

I think it’s impor­tant for pro­fes­sion­als to not give up right away on fam­i­ly mem­bers who are even quite overt­ly reject­ing of an LGBTQ child or fam­i­ly member…When giv­en the choice between los­ing a child ver­sus just push­ing through your own dis­com­fort and find­ing a way to stay open and keep your heart open, many par­ents do make their way to open­ing their heart.”

We often don’t know who among our licensed fam­i­lies is actu­al­ly real­ly ready and will­ing and able to be that affirm­ing, safe family.”

LGBTQ home­less youth, we believe, make up any­where from 2540% of that pop­u­la­tion of home­less youth. That’s a cri­sis, in my opinion.”

Resources That Received a Shout-Out

About the Podcast

Cas­ey­Cast is a month­ly pod­cast pro­duced by the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion and host­ed by its exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and chief pro­gram offi­cer, Lisa Hamil­ton. Each episode fea­tures Hamil­ton talk­ing with a new expert about how we can build a brighter future for kids, fam­i­lies and communities.

Enjoy the Episode?

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