We close with the story of Michael Hendricks, who spent eight years in Michigan’s foster care system. LGBTQ youth enter foster care for many of the same reasons as non-LGBTQ youth, however, they often additionally struggle with family rejection around their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and continue to face this rejection once they enter foster care.
This is true for Michael. At 12, he was kicked out of his grandparents’ home for being gay. Michael shares the negative messages around his gender expression he received from his foster mother in one of his first foster homes,“She asked me if I was gay and I was honest. They were not at all supportive of me being gay. Within two days of arriving there, they asked me to leave.”
Research shows that experiences like these lead to disparities in outcomes for LGBTQ youth who too often struggle to find supportive services, affirming home environments and the resources they need. In Michael’s story, he shared how fortunate he felt to have a supportive caseworker:
What if I hadn't been assigned that caseworker? I don't know that I would have received the information I deserved around my health and sexuality.
HRC’s All Children – All Families project works with caseworkers like Michael’s to help them provide inclusive services and resources for LGBTQ youth. Since leaving foster care, Michael serves as an advocate for other youth in care. You can read his full story here.
This year’s blog series for National Foster Care Month highlighted the diverse experiences of LGBTQ youth and families in foster care. From the #FosterEquality campaign, to a post that explains “why foster care is an LGBTQ issue,” and an update on state legislation limiting the rights of LGBTQ foster/adoptive adults--the stories shared are a call to action for all of us.