There are many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth and those questioning their sexual orientation and gender identity (LGBTQ+) in foster care. These youth enter foster care more often than straight and gender-typical children, are placed into out-of-home care at higher rates, often have a more difficult time in care, and have poorer permanency outcomes. They also have extremely high risk factors for dropping out of school, resorting to drugs and alcohol, becoming homeless, or attempting suicide. These problems almost always come from the rejection and abuse these youth face. Research has shown that LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in the foster care system – many having faced family rejection around their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. We also know that while in care, LGBTQ youth face higher rates of harassment, disruptive placements and trauma than their non-LGBTQ peers.

As developed by the Guardian ad Litem Statewide LGBTQ+ Circuit Liaison Team, this plan is an effort to reach an improved level of enhanced advocacy for LGBTQ+ youth within the child welfare system. The plan has been developed to increase the competence and advocacy efforts of volunteer child advocates and staff in the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program. The plan is meant to further the advocacy efforts of child advocates working with LGBTQ youth, regardless of where the youth resides or the legal status of the case. While LGBTQ youth living in out-of-home care have faced some of the greatest challenges, there are many youth who continue to live with their families. This plan also seeks to provide improved skills for supporting LGBTQ youth in all types of out-of-home situations.

This training is presented in a series of 9 different training modules.