Post submitted by former HRC Digital Media Manager Helen Parshall
In partnership with FosterClub, HRC’s All Children - All Families project has launched its #FosterEquality campaign to share stories throughout National Foster Care Month of young LGBTQ leaders who have experienced foster care. Their stories underscore the importance of learning from and advocating for LGBTQ youth in care who all too often struggle with understanding their identities without the support of an affirming adult.
This week, we are proud to highlight the stories of Courtney Sausville, Eric Warner and former HRC Youth Ambassador Weston Charles-Gallo, who are working to make a difference in the lives of other young people across the U.S.
Sausville spent four years in Vermont's foster care system -- from the age of 12 until she was adopted at 16. Determined to succeed, she finished high school a year early and went to college seeking a new start. Sausville has participated in numerous youth development and leadership programs, including FosterClub and Vermont’s Youth Development Program, and serves as a mentor for the DREAM program. In 2015, FosterClub honored Sausville as an Outstanding Youth Leader.
Warner spent 11 years in the Arkansas foster care system before he transitioned out, also known as "aging out" of the foster care system. He moved to Arizona and has spent the last six years working with the Arizona foster care system. He’s attending Arizona State University, and also working to establish his own non-profit to provide necessary support to youth -- especially transitioning-age youth who have nowhere to turn when they age out of the system.
Charles-Gallo entered the foster care system when he was 14, after his biological parents neglected him after he came out as gay. After hospitalizations, shelters and foster home placements, he found his forever family with his two dads and six siblings. Now, Charles-Gallo works as an advocate for other LGBTQ youth experiencing foster care. He helped create a bill of rights for Missouri foster care youth that was passed and signed by the state’s governor in the summer of 2017. Charles-Gallo is a former HRC Foundation Youth Ambassador, using that position to raise awareness of issues facing LGBTQ youth across the U.S. Recently, he was awarded the FosterClub Outstanding Young Leader Award for his advocacy. Charles-Gallo is now a freshman in college and aspires to be a motivational speaker sharing his story with youth across the country. In his spare time, he enjoys spending it with his family and friends and living his authentic self every day.
Having an affirming voice and a caring adult can be immensely powerful for young people in care. HRC advocates for foster youth all year round through our All Children - All Families project that helps agencies improve their services for LGBTQ youth in foster care.
Stay tuned to hrc.org/blog and help us share the stories of youth in care throughout May.
Learn more about All Children–All Families’ work to promote LGBTQ cultural competency in adoption and foster care at hrc.org/acaf. Want to stay up-to-date on All Children - All Families resources and activities? Subscribe to “Field Forward,” the program’s monthly e-newsletter at hrc.im/field-forward.