Supporting LGBTQ+ & Gender-Diverse Youth
Understanding the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ+ and gender-diverse youth is important for professionals working with this population. Establishing a welcoming and inclusive environment plays a key role in helping youth and their families feel protected and supported.
Research shows that LGBTQ+ and gender-diverse youth experience a higher rate of abuse and neglect than their heterosexual and binary peers, which leads to higher rates of involvement in the child welfare system. Studies estimate about 30 percent of current youth in foster care identify as LGBTQ+ and five percent as transgender. A positive family environment, with high levels of parental support, has been shown to help foster resilience and better health outcomes for this youth population.
As part of Pride Month in June, many local, state, and national organizations shared resources that can be used year-round to ensure LGBTQ+ and gender-diverse youth and families have the tools and support necessary to promote positive health and life outcomes. CalTrin pulled together the following resources to help guide child- and family-serving professionals in establishing a welcoming and inclusive environment so that LGBTQ+ and gender-diverse youth and their families feel protected and supported.
California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare
Our partner project, the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare (CEBC), promotes the effective implementation of evidence-based practices for children and families involved with the child welfare system. Explore the CEBC’s Supporting Sexual and/or Gender Minority (SGM) Youth topic area, which highlights programs that increase the skills, knowledge, and support of youth who are asexual and/or gender minority, their parents or caregivers (including resource parents), and the providers and staff who work with them, such as caseworkers, congregate care providers, educators, and other professionals. View all programs in this topic area reviewed by the CEBC online here.
Capacity Building Center for States
Resources developed by the Center for States and other federal partners can help your agency build the capacity to support LGBTQI+ children and youth and help them thrive by improving practice, developing inclusive policies, and creating a culture that affirms LGBTQI+ identities. In their June 22, 2022 bulletin, Center for States asked providers to consider how the following actions can work to create a foundation of support for LGBTQI+ children and youth at your agency:
- Listen and affirm what LGBTQI+ children and youth tell you about their identities, including their preferred pronouns, names, and other information.
- Provide foster placements where LGBTQI+ children and youth will be supported. Evidence is clear that LGBTQI+ children and youth in foster care are most likely to thrive in safe, affirming environments.
- Offer LGBTQI+ children and youth access to mental and other health care that affirms their identities and ensures they receive it.
- Pay attention to the additional challenges faced by LGBTQI+ children and youth with intersectional identities (e.g., being both LGBTQI+ and nonwhite, immigrant, or non-English speaking) and offer support to mitigate them.
Their Spotlight on Supporting LGBTQI+ Young People in Child Welfare bulletin also included a comprehensive roundup of data and resources, including publications, archived webinars, and related organizations. Access the bulletin archive online here.
The Center of Excellence on LGBTQ+ Behavioral Health Equity
The Center of Excellence provides behavioral health practitioners with vital information on supporting the population of people identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, two-spirit, and other diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, and expressions. They have developed several resources to advance LGBTQ+ behavioral health equity, including:
- Video: Learning About Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity & Expression video (English, Spanish, Portuguese)
- SOGIE Glossary of Term (English, Spanish, Portuguese)
- Video: Providing Equitable and Affirming Care to LGBTQ+ Older Adults
- LGBTQ+ Trauma-Informed Care Infographic
- COVID-19 and Its Impacts on the LGBTQ+ Community
Access their entire collection, including featured partner resources, online here. Find specific resources on supporting trans youth online here.
Child Welfare Information Gateway
Child Welfare Information Gateway has developed a comprehensive collection of resources to support child welfare workers serving the LGBTQ+ youth population, including resources for LGBTQ+ youth in out-of-home care and resources offering support and guidance for LGBTQ+ youth and their families. Their resource collections include the following topics:
- Working With LGBTBQ+ Youth and Families
- Resources for LGBTQ+ Youth in Out-of-Home Care
- Resources for Families of LGBTQ+ Youth
- Working With LGBTQ+ Families in Adoption
- Working With LGBTQ+ Youth and Families: Behavioral Health
- Adoption by Family Type: LGBTQ+ Families
In addition, Supporting Your LGBTQ+ Youth: A Guide for Foster Parents is a factsheet both foster parents and professionals can use to learn how to be a better ally and provide the support LGBTQ+ youth need (also available in Spanish). Download these tip sheets from the guide:
- 7 Tips to Support Youth Who Disclose their LGBTQ+ Identity (English, Spanish)
- 7 Ways to Support LGBTQ+ Youth (English, Spanish)
View Child Welfare Information Gateway’s complete list of updated tools and resources for 2022 online here.
Family Acceptance Project
The Family Acceptance Project (FAP) at San Francisco State University is a research, intervention, education, and policy initiative to prevent health and mental health risks for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer-identified (LGBTQ) children and youth in the context of their families, cultures, and faith communities. FAP uses a research-based, culturally grounded approach to help ethnically, racially, and religiously diverse families learn to support their LGBTQ+ children. Visit their first-of-its-kind collection of LGBTQ youth and family resources to decrease mental health risks and promote well‐being online here.
The FAP also designed a poster series to educate family members, providers, religious leaders, LGBTQ+ youth, and others about the critical role of family support to prevent suicide and other serious health risks and in building healthy futures for LGBTQ+ children and youth. Posters are currently available in English, Spanish, American Indian, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Punjabi, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. Read the poster guidance and download various sizes here.
Gender Spectrum is a national organization committed to the health and well-being of gender-diverse children and teens through education and support for families and training and guidance for educators, medical and mental health providers, and other professionals. They offer an array of services, including:
Their parenting resource, Parenting Your Gender Expansive Child: Supportive Parenting, offers specific actions parents can take to create a supportive family environment that promotes their child’s health and well-being and highlights unsupportive parenting practices. Explore Gender Spectrum’s entire collection of resources online here.
Movement Advancement Project
Founded in 2006, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) is an independent, nonprofit think tank that provides rigorous research, insight, and communications that help speed equality and opportunity for all. MAP collaborated with the Biden Foundation and Gender Spectrum to create a library of resources to help parents of transgender children gain a deeper understanding and learn how to best support their child in ways that can help them succeed and thrive.
Explore their page, Family Support: Resources for Families of Transgender & Gender Diverse Children, for answers to these questions:
- Who are Transgender Youth, and What Challenges Do They Face?
- Why is Family Acceptance So Important?
- What are Practical Ways for Families to Support Transgender Youth?
Resources are also available for a specific family audience, including Asian and Pacific Islander, Black and African American, Latinx, and Families of Faith. View all resources online here.
National SOGIE Center
The National SOGIE Center is a collaborative led by The Institute for Innovation and Implementation at the University of Maryland’s School of Social Work. It comprises multiple organizations that work to improve the lives of children and youth with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression (SOGIE) involved in systems of care. Visit their centralized site to access resources on providing culturally responsive care to children, youth, young adults, and their families across systems, including child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health (including school mental health), substance use systems, and housing and homelessness. Areas of focus include:
- Youth, Family & Caregiver Programing including Tip Sheets for Working with LGBTQ+ Youth and their Families
- Behavioral Health Offerings (via the Center of Excellence)
- Model Policies & SOGIE Data Collection
- Workforce Initiatives & Trainings
The National SOGIE Center also provides training, technical assistance, and implementation support on creating culturally responsive systems for children, youth, and families with diverse SOGIE.
Founded in 1973, PFLAG is the first and largest organization dedicated to supporting, educating, and advocating for LGBTQ+ people and their families. PFLAG is a community of more than 250,000 members and supporters working to create a caring, just, and affirming world for LGBTQ+ people and those who love them. Access publications, news, and on-demand videos in PFLAG’s four priority areas:
The Trevor Project
The Trevor Project is the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning) young people. Their topics of focus for resources and support include:
- Diversity of LGBTQ Young People
- Gender Identity
- Mental Health
- Sexual Orientation
- Talking About Suicide
Another great resource from The Trevor Project is their annual National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, which sheds light on many challenges by capturing the experiences of nearly 35,000 LGBTQ youth ages 13–24 across the United States. View the 2021 survey results online here.
- Pronouns.org is a practical resource dedicated to the empowering and inclusive use of personal pronouns in the English language. This website will help you understand why and how to use the pronouns someone goes by.
- Beyond the Gender Binary by Alok Vaid-Menon
- Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe
- Spanish Resources
Extend Your Learning with CalTrin!
In May 2022, Gender Spectrum facilitated a Foundations of Gender-Inclusive Work Series for CalTrin that consisted of two workshops designed to establish a basic understanding of gender diversity and approaches for application to professional practice. Through direct presentation, video clips of youth and others talking about gender, and group reflection and discussion, this series took participants through a review of basics gender concepts and terminology and described concrete methods for applying the lens of gender diversity to mental health, social work, and child welfare practices and contexts.
Training materials and resources for both workshops, Dimensions of Gender and Gender-Inclusive Practices in Action, are available on CalTrin’s learning management system. Please note you will need to log in to your CalTrin account to access the training materials. You can create a free account here.
*Last updated February 10, 2023