While many states have passed legislation in recent years explicitly prohibiting mental health professionals from using conversion therapy with LGBTQ youth, legislation to protect professionals who engage in this practice is pending in the Texas Legislature. That would further marginalize and threaten the safety and mental health of some of our state’s most vulnerable youth.
As child welfare administrators try to enhance their efforts to provide more effective sex education to foster youth, it is critical that they seek to address the unique experiences, vulnerabilities, identities and resourcefulness of young people in care.
Educators continue to downplay the overall pervasiveness of sexual harassment in school hallways, locker rooms and classrooms. This despite a study done by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) that found that 56 percent of surveyed middle and high school girls reported being sexually harassed by a peer in the previous school year.
Many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth trust and confide in their teachers about their sexual orientation or gender identity when they perceive that their families will not be accepting. In many cases, a teacher may be the only adult that an LGBTQ youth has come out to.
In faith-based foster care, there is an increased likelihood of prospective foster and adoptive parents’ theological and personal convictions directly conflicting with the acceptance and affirmation LGBT youth require.