Roth-Gutman Law

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Strategizing with you to help a child

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An Intro to the LGBTQIAP+ Community and What You Need to Know as a Family Member & Foster Parent

The purpose of this article to is provide a warm, welcoming environment and some basic information.

What does LGBTQIAP+ stand for?

L= Lesbian- someone who identifies as a woman attracted to another person who identifies as a woman. Lesbian is a sexual orientation term.

G = Gay- someone who identifies as a man attracted to another person who identifies as a man. Gay is a sexual orientation term.

B = Bisexual- someone who is attracted to both their sex and others. Also, known as “Bi.” Bisexual is a sexual orientation term.

T = Trans – an inclusive term for someone who is gender non-conforming to conventional or cultural expectations or who identifies as non-binary or genderfluid. An example is someone whose sex at birth is female or male yet identifies as the opposite sex. Trans is a gender identity term.

Q = Queer or Questioning – someone who knows they are not heterosexual (straight) but is exploring their identity or do not want to identify themselves as anything more. (Please be aware the term “Queer” can be used is a powerful, positive way for someone to identify or it can be used as a hateful slur. Tone and context are extremely important.) Queer is a sexual orientation term.

I = Intersex- people who were born not fitting into the conventional definitions of female or male and may possess both sex characteristics (hormones, chromosomes, etc.).

A = Asexual- someone who may feel attracted to others but not in a sexual way, more of a friendship or can feel attracted, in a romantic manner but minimally. Asexual is a sexual orientation term.

P = Pansexual- someone who is attracted to another based on their personality; someone who is romantically, physically or emotionally attracted to any person, regardless of gender. Pansexual is a sexual orientation term.

+ = And more – there are over 100 sexualities such as androsexual, aromatic, graysexual, bicurious, and so much more.

Now that we have had a quick introduction to the LGBTQIAP+ community let’s talk about the child welfare system.

There are families looking to foster or adopt who might not want to open their homes and hearts to those who identify themselves as part of this community. If foster children is placed into a resource home with a non-accepting family, this can lead to further trauma by treating the child differently, bullying, ostracizing, humiliating, and abuse. 78% of LGBTQIAP+ children run away or are removed from unsafe, unhealthy or unwelcomed homes because of their identity. 56% end up homeless because they felt safer than in the home they were placed in the foster care system such as DCPP. The hostility faced in the home can lead to depression, anxiety, the juvenile justice system and sexual violence. Twice the amount of LGBTQIAP+ children report being treated poorly in the child welfare system.

As a foster or resource parent, it is important to show representation to make everyone feel welcome. Around 30% of youth in the system identify as LGBTQIAP+. Keep in mind, a child might even be placed into your home due to unaccepting parents. You don’t need to paint your walls rainbow to do this (but if you do and everyone in the house feels comfortable, go for it!) But asking your family if they would be comfortable with a hate has no home here flag or sign, a ceramic rainbow on the mantle, reading/displaying books like Rick by Alex Gino or Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins, and subtle touches to make your house feel accepting is a great idea. Or, if the child you are fostering isn’t comfortable (because they might feel overwhelmed or have faced trauma in the past) then that is totally fine. Maybe buying rainbow shoelaces is all your child needs or maybe they just want a pride flag in their room.

Coming out

If someone comes out to their family or the child you are fostering comes out, it is important to be supportive but not overwhelming (It is important to note that although at the moment, only LGBTQIAP+ people are told they are the ones that need to come out, whether you are straight or part of the LGBTQIAP+, it might be radical to say this but it might make things easier on a child if everyone in the household is verbal about how they identify).

For example, if your foster child comes out as bisexual and says, “I need to talk to you. I’m bi.” Your reaction should be something like saying you are proud of them. Or, you will love them no matter what they decide to identify themselves as. Or giving them a hug is also a great way to show love and make them welcome. Adding they can always talk to you will make them feel more comfortable and making sure they know that they will be treated the same as everyone else is important. You should also ask them important questions such as, do you want your biological parents, caseworker, and school to know? Or, do you want me to share the information with your caseworker? If a child comes out as non-binary or trans, you might want to ask if they are keeping the same name and pronouns. Make sure to always refer to the child’s identify in the same way they describe and see it.

Speaking of reactions, saying “Are you sure this isn’t a phase?” can make others feel uncomfortable. This is highly inappropriate to say because when someone figures out they are not heterosexual, they have gone through a lot of thought. They already have had the struggle of having to figure out who they are, which is a lot.  Someone asking them “Are you sure this isn’t a phase?” may close to the door to them being open and will not help them.

If the child is religious, they might feel there is no longer a safe place for them while worshipping. There are segments of many religions that are inviting and accepting of the LGPTQIAP+ community.

Hopefully, this little article helped you learn more about the LGBTQIAP+ community and how you can help make those that identify with this community more welcome. The concept from this article stems from the bipartisan passage and new law, the Respect for Marriage Act, requiring all states to recognize same-sex marriages and interracial marriages as well as and in response to the backlash and discrimination happening all over the country against LGBTQIAP+ community.

Roth-Gutman Law is an ally to all.

The following websites helped create this article:

By A.G. & Jill Roth-Gutman

Published by Jill Roth-Gutman

Jill Roth-Gutman is a Child Welfare Law Specialist, certified by the National Association of Counsel for Children, a credentialing organization approved by the American Bar Association. She provides New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP, formerly, DYFS) consultations to resource parents, family members and potential foster and foster-to-adopt parents as well as completes DCPP Adoption. She also specializes in Adult Child Guardianships, writing Power of Attorney and Living Wills. Ms. Roth-Gutman is available as Guardian ad Litem (GAL) in contested child custody cases and as a Court Appointment Attorney for Alleged Incapacitated Persons in Guardianships. Ms. Roth-Gutman is a proud member of the Burlington County Bar Association, Camp to Belong River Valley Recruitment Committee, and sits on the Camden County Workforce Development Board's Youth Investment Council Committee.