Our staff recommendations for June continue to focus on uplifting the voices of youth in foster care. Because of their life experiences, these youth are truly experts in the child welfare system, who we should listen to and learn from. In honor of June being Pride Month, we are especially tuned into the stories, struggles, and triumphs of LGBTQ+ youth who are living, or have lived, in the foster care system. By listening to their stories and learning from their experiences, we can better serve them through systems of support and advocacy that address their unique needs.
Article Pick – “30% of children in foster care identify as LGBTQ. Here’s one transgender teen’s story in Virginia.” By Colleen Curran from The Richmond Dispatch
Taliah is a typical, 14-year-old Virginia teen. She runs track at school, takes dance lessons, and enjoys spending Saturdays at a roller rink with her friends. The importance of this article lies in telling Taliah’s full story; the story of how she is one of the many LGBTQ+ youth in Virginia’s foster care system. Abused at a young age for coming out as gay to her father, Taliah, who was assigned male at birth, entered foster care at the age of 12. Taliah struggled through different foster care placements until she found a new home with Randy and Lanette Hall. We encourage you to read Taliah’s story to learn more about how trans youth, and all LGBTQ+ youth, can be better supported by foster families and other caring adults in their lives. This article proves that with acceptance, patience, and understanding, all children can feel safe, loved, and comfortable in their own skin.
Short Film Pick – America’s Most Unwanted directed by Shani Heckman
Take the 20 minutes needed to watch this 2011 short documentary which focuses on the real-life stories of queer foster youth in California. The youth interviewed hold nothing back when recounting their struggles with feelings of loneliness, disfunction, and of feeling unwanted. Despite being a decade old, the film touches on topics still relevant today to LGBTQ foster youth in care. One youth had multiple placements disrupted upon being outed. Another stated feeling treated like a “category” instead of being treated like a person with her own hopes and dreams. All the youth agree that what they need are consistent adults in their life who are willing to educate themselves on the unique problems facing LGBTQ foster youth and to show them unconditional support. That, they say, is how they can move forward and find success in their futures.
Blog Pick – Youth Communication
This unique blog is another impactful example of stories about children in foster care written by the youth themselves. The youth’s stories cover many relevant topics surrounding work in the child welfare system: the effects of family separation, struggles with mental illness, and the importance of building family where you find it, to name a few. The youth voices are raw, authentic, and impassioned. We find storytelling one of the most powerful tools for understanding the complexities of the child welfare system and what better storytellers to listen to than the very children who have lived, and are currently living, within that system.