Is the Foster Care System Really Doing Good at Protecting Today's Youth? - By Asher Lego

The number of youth in the foster care system is growing day by day. That means that the number of children waiting for a forever home is increasing, causing availability to decrease -- especially when people don't want to adopt a queer or transgender child. This is endangering ecspecially the LGBTQ identifying kids all across the United States. When a very high amount of children in the LGBTQ community and in the Foster Care system are going from home to home, it causes these young people to have a weight on their shoulder and feel unwanted, resulting in manic depression, ptsd from abuse, and suicidal thoughts. Many LGBTQ identifying kids report their placement homes and prefer to be on the streets than in foster care. This shows there is a problem since there are so many cases of abuse, neglect, and other horrible things that happen in a foster home. But how can we fix this? Can´t the system improve to keep our children safe and free from harm, harassment, and abuse?

Some people believe that the Foster Care System can’t do anything because of the fact that they cannot afford to pay for the children or that they can’t find enough families.  I see that this is an issue, but that is no excuse for putting any child where they will not be safe and where they are at so much risk; just because that the system doesn’t have enough money or a family does not mean they should suffer.

Over 40 percent of children in the system are LGBTQ identifying. These children are more likely to be treated awfully from their foster families than their hetrosexual and cisgender peers. According to True Colors Fund, ¨Half of all teens get a negative reaction from their parents when they come out to them. More than 1 in 4 are thrown out of their homes.¨

Just because someone declares a different sexuality or gender identity, they shouldn’t be so difficult to put into an accepting place. Sources say that these kids have been harassed verbally, physically, or even sexually, both in foster care and group homes or other living spaces. Other sources state that they chose to stay on the streets, rather than their adopted families as an adolescent.  And just like their peers, they want love; that is what they are asking for.

In Portland, Oregon specifically, the issue of LGBTQ youths in the system is huge. Children are going from home to home and have to go through not ever finding a home that will accept them. It is already hard to put Non-LGBTQ  youth in homes because of the lack of choices. A lot of my personal friends who are LGBTQ identifying have informed me that they won't ever get adopted out. Or that even though they hate being with parents and are unsafe, they have to stay because it could be worse outside of home in group homes and temporary homes. Department of Human Services is currently resorting to putting the kids in emergency care like motels for example. It is so sad that these youths have to go through so much just to have food on the table or to be in a safe space and not on the streets.

No matter the reason why a child is parted from family; whether drug use in home, physical abuse, sexual abuse, or any other type of reason, these next-generation people need help and the only way we will get that is if we find a safe place for every youth whether LGBTQ or not, and acceptance for who they are. They are part of the generation and many to come on.  They are who will shape this world. So it’s important to treat an LGBTQ child the same way you would treat a non LGBTQ child. Overall, if homophobia and transphobia got knocked out, I could see a much lower statistic for this issue.

When I get older, I can imagine me being a foster parent or adopting kids because I want to help give an accepting home that the individual feels safe in, like they should be. By the time I am ready for that, I hope this system improves, and that people open their eyes to accept others.

- Asher Lego | LGBTQ identifying 8th grader in Portland, Oregon

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