Homeless and Runaway Young People Term Paper

Pages: 10 (2982 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Women's Issues - Sexuality

The fundamental objective of child welfare services is to protect children from harm, care for them and provide for their best interests. When a family fails or becomes unwilling to provide these, the state comes in to fill in the function during a child or young person's developmental years. State laws guarantee this provision and the protection of the civil rights of the young. While some local child welfare agencies and workers have taken steps to respond to the needs of these youth, the majority have remained indifferent or even oblivious to the reality of gay youth in their care and, instead, exhibit abusive and hostile attitudes towards them who are the very object of their care (Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund 2002). There have been earlier calls for reform, prominently by a joint task force of New York City's Child Welfare Administration and the Council of Family and Other Child Caring Agencies, which presented a position paper on the misunderstood, neglect and discrimination suffered by these young. These groups emphasized that anti-gay views and feelings definitely have no place in the child welfare system that should, instead, show support, rather that blame and stigma to these young homeless. In addition to these complex difficulties, the youth are also confronted by mounting health risks, many of them un-addressed, and a high risk of suicide. A survey of students from grades 7 to 12 showed that 28.1% of them were bisexual or gays and 20.5% were bisexual or lesbians who had attempted suicide (LLDEF). And their ethnic or racial status further compounded their problems.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Homeless and Runaway Young People Assignment

The Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund (2002) pressed for reforms in the form of non-discrimination policies, the proper training of foster parents and the system's staff, and provision for programs and services for these gay youth. Non-discrimination policies should prohibit discrimination towards the sexual orientation of foster care youth, the sexual orientation of foster parents or other foster household members themselves, the sexual orientation of the staff, the youth's HIV / AIDS status or that of the foster care family and household and of the foster care staff (LLDEF). The show of respect for gender preference under these policies would cohere with the dignity, respect and support to which the young homeless are fundamentally and constitutionally entitled as human beings. The state should enforce and monitor on the strict compliance of these policies and provisions.

Foster parents and the institution staff should also be educated and equipped with the right view and value towards these problem youth through high-quality training. Training should render them sensitive to other persons' sexual orientation and gender identity and foster greater acceptance and understanding for their choice (LLDEF 2002). The training can lead foster parents and staff to view homosexuality as something other than a moral failing or disease to be cured, make these young ones feel safer in their gender preference, treat them and heterosexual youth with equality, be more responsive, protective and supportive to these problem youth, avoid traditional gender stereotype impositions, work with their families towards overcoming the bias and to observe confidentiality (LLDEF). Another feature of these policies is the provision of developmentally appropriate sexual health education to these youth, including those with HIV / AIDS. This training should be imposed as a condition to foster parent licensing or employment. A number of organizations already began developing such training programs, which can be used as models and resources. One example was the Casey Family Program, a private provider of foster and long-term placement services, which trained 111 staff members on gay issues. Post-training evaluation showed statistical positive change in the staff members' sensitivity to the conditions of gay youth in their care. Other organizations that followed the lead included Green Chimneys in New York City, GLASS in Los Angeles and True Colors in Connecticut (LLDEF).

Proposed programs and services for gay and homeless youth include the immediate transformation and equipping of all foster and group homes as safe places for gay youth; identification and training of foster parents; assigning gay "ombudspersons;" counseling for gay and questioning youth and to birth families; resources and community contacts; special training for foster parents to HIV / AIDS gay and homeless youth; other sexual education and further access to confidential testing for HIV / AIDS and STD-afflicted gay and homeless young.

LLDEF (2002) specified the adoption of strict policies against all forms of harassment towards these gay and homeless youth, the education of group staff and residents about the importance and operation of these strict policies; enforcing them efficiently by disciplining violators and subjecting them to counseling and re-education; establishing a truly gay-supporting environment in detail; and hiring or exposing these youth to openly living gay staff members to advocate or serve as role models for these youth. It also suggested that these young people to be placed with previously identified gay foster parents; that the gay "ombudsperson" in child welfare settings or offices be appointed to respond to specific problems or questions of gay and homeless youth; and that provisions be made for resources and contacts for case workers, foster parents, birth families and the gay and homeless youth, including support and peer groups, reading materials and hotlines (LLDEF).

A survey of 14 States on their current policies and practices for gay and homeless young people in foster care was conducted also to serve as a launching point to state and welfare agencies, outline positive developments and make recommendations for improvement or reform (LLDEF 2002). The survey included questionnaires and telephone interviews with child welfare agencies in these states concerning their policies and practice, training on foster care and sexual orientation issues and a review of these agencies' websites, laws and regulations. Findings of the survey showed that gay and homeless youth in these specific States continued to be marginalized and discriminated against in these child welfare agencies.

However, and as previously mentioned, some states and localities have already undertaken steps in addressing and arresting the phenomenon of gay and homeless youngsters, as in the cases of the Casey Family Program, the Green Chimneys of New York, GLASS of Los Angeles and True Colors of Connecticut (LLDEF 2002). On the whole, child welfare agencies confront the real and urgent need to evaluate their policies and prejudices against the reality and start to acknowledge that there is such a problem to face and work on. The phenomenon is widespread and spreading and it requires an honest response in the form of a changed attitude, sensitivity, commitment, and concrete measures that will frankly attain the objectives of child welfare agencies and workers to the continuously increasing wave of youngsters to which these agencies and workers are committed to serve, in the first place (LLDEF).

The Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund is an American non-governmental organization, established in 1973, that promotes the legal rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, trans-gendered individuals, people with HIV / AIDS and the questioning young (2004) though activities that impact litigation and education. It was first denied the right to become or get organized as a non-profit corporation by or under the laws of the State of New York on account of its activities deemed counter to public morals and public policy (LLDEF). In 1973, the New York Court of Appeals overturned this decision and, since then, the LLDEF has played an active role in legal cases involving gay rights, particularly in the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Lawrence v Texas, which invalidated sodomy laws.

In another involvement, LLDEF asked the federal appeals court to grant asylum to a gay Mexican immigrant who was subjected to severe harassment and persecution by the police and the public. It also filed a brief in the Virginia Supreme Court last October, seeking birth certificates for children born in that State and adopted by same-sex couples in other states on the grounds that schools, hospitals and other institutions refused services or access to records to those without birth certificates, which specifically names the legal parents (LLDEF 2004). It also filed a lawsuit, seeking marriage equality in New York and likewise demanded changes in the administration's new regulations in access to schools by gay youth (LLDEF).


Farrow, J.A., ed, et al. (1992). Homeless and Runaway Youth Health and Health Needs. A position paper for the Society of Adolescent Medicine. Journal of Adolescent Health. http://www.adolescenthealth.org/html/homeless.html

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. (2004). Youth in the Margins. Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund publications. http://www.lambdalegal.org/cgi-bin/icon/documents/record=899

2002). Getting Down to Basics About LGBT Youth in Foster Care. Mediapolis, Inc. http://www.lambdalegal.org/cgi-bin/iowa/documents/record?record=1027

Lesbian Gay Rights Lobby of Texas. (2003). Fact Sheet on the Proposed Ban on Gay Foster Care in Texas. http://lgrl.org/familycoalition/lib194brochure.pdf

National Center for Lesbian Rights. (2004). Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans-gendered Youth in… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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