2010 HOME Conference - Working with and raising awareness about lgbtq clients


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2010 HOME Conference - Working with and raising awareness about lgbtq clients

  1. 1. Working With and Raising Awareness about LGBTQ Clients
  2. 2. Rex Smith- President/CEO Maureen Raphael- Program Development Specialist Hearts and Homes for Youth Inc. 1320 Fenwick Lane Suite 800 Silver Spring, MD 20910 (301)589-8444 www.heartsandhomes.org
  3. 3. DON’T Stereotype, But DO Make a Professional Assumption <ul><li>As professionals, we never want to assume that someone is LGBT identifying simply by how they present, a feeling we have or because they “fit the mold”, but we have to assume that some percentage of the clients we work with are LGBT identifying and model our practices so that they include everyone </li></ul>
  4. 4. What does LGBT mean? Definitions <ul><li>LGBT - Acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning: </li></ul><ul><li>Lesbian </li></ul><ul><li>A woman whose emotional, romantic, and sexual attractions are primarily for other women </li></ul><ul><li>Gay </li></ul><ul><li>A person whose emotional, romantic, and sexual attractions are primarily for individuals of the same sex, In some contexts, used as a general term for both gay men and lesbians </li></ul><ul><li>Bisexual </li></ul><ul><li>A person who is emotionally, romantically, and sexually attracted to both men and women </li></ul>Source: Nation Center for Lesbian Rights www.nclrights.org
  5. 5. Definitions Continued… <ul><li>Transgender </li></ul><ul><li>A person who transitions from one physical sex to another in order to bring his or her body more in line with his or her innate sense of gender identity. It includes both those who were born male but whose gender identity is female and those born female but whose gender identity is male, as well as people who do not identify as either male or female; many transgender people also refer to themselves as transsexual </li></ul><ul><li>Questioning </li></ul><ul><li>An active process in which a person explores his or her own sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Many LGBT people go through this process before coming out </li></ul><ul><li>Source: Nation Center for Lesbian Rights www.nclrights.org </li></ul>
  6. 6. How do LGBT Youth become Homeless? <ul><li>For many youth, the reality of being true to themselves can possibly result in them be kicked out of their homes by family members who may not be able to accept an LGBT youth as a member of their family </li></ul><ul><li>For some youth this may mean time spent in state care in the various foster homes, group homes and independent living facilities provided to youth that are deemed wards of the state </li></ul><ul><li>While time in state care may provide a youth’s basic needs of food, clothing and shelter, the safety, security and ability to be who they really are is something many youth don’t find in these environments </li></ul><ul><li>For other youth for whom state care is not an option for various reasons or because the youth does not feel safe in state care, homeless becomes a reality </li></ul>
  7. 7. LGBT Youth…Survival on the Streets <ul><li>One out of every five homeless youth is LGBT- identified </li></ul><ul><li>While living on the streets, LGBT youth face a much higher risk of both physical and sexual exploitation that other youth </li></ul><ul><li>A recent study found that LGBT youth experience an average of 7.4 more acts of sexual violence toward them then their heterosexual peers </li></ul><ul><li>Another study found that LGBT youth may have twice the rates of sexual victimization on the streets as non-LGBT homeless youth </li></ul>Source: Nation Center for Lesbian Rights www.nclrights.org
  8. 8. But Perhaps the Most Shocking Statistic <ul><li>LGBT homeless youth are more than twice as likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual homeless peers: </li></ul><ul><li>62 % of LGBT homeless youth attempt suicide </li></ul><ul><li>vs. </li></ul><ul><li>29% of heterosexual homeless youth </li></ul>Source: Nation Center for Lesbian Rights www.nclrights.org
  9. 9. Choosing to be Homeless? <ul><li>Some wonder if there is help available in the form of state care, why would a youth choose to be homeless? Some LGBT youth are willing to brave the dangers of being homeless because although they may not be able to get their daily needs met on the streets, they are able to be themselves, something that they may not be able to do in a shelter, a state placement, or even in their own homes </li></ul>
  10. 10. Accepting Help at What Cost? <ul><li>For LGBT identified youth, placement in state care or even a temporary stay in a shelter could result in brutalization at the hands of peers who do not agree with their lifestyle, discrimination by workers who are close minded and not properly trained and for an LGBT youth, forced suppression of who they are in order to get their basic human needs met; this type of treatment can result in long term psychological affects and feelings of rejection </li></ul>
  11. 11. What Placement Options are Available to LGBT youth in State Care? <ul><li>For LGBT youth in state care, there three most widely used </li></ul><ul><li>placements are: </li></ul><ul><li>Group Home - the placement of a youth in a home with youth of similar age, therapeutic services may or may not be involved depending on the needs of the youth </li></ul><ul><li>Independent Living - the placement of a youth in an apartment setting with youth of similar age, the youth is typically expected to maintain employment and/or attend school </li></ul><ul><li>Foster Care - the placement of a youth in the home of a trained and licensed foster parent, therapeutic services may or may not be involved depending on the needs of the youth </li></ul>
  12. 12. LGBT Youth in Group Homes <ul><li>Placing an LGBT Youth in a group home can be a positive experience but can also present the following list and a host of other questions: </li></ul><ul><li>Are staff properly trained about LGBT issues and willing to provide youth with the support needed? </li></ul><ul><li>Have other residents been appropriately informed about LGBT youth? </li></ul><ul><li>What safety issues are present for an LGBT youth amongst peers and how can the youth be kept safe? </li></ul><ul><li>Has consideration been given to what services an LGBT youth will need and research been done to ensure the professionals providing those services are LGBT friendly? </li></ul><ul><li>Do agency policies and procedures support LGBT youth? </li></ul>
  13. 13. LGBT Youth in Independent Living Programs <ul><li>In addition to the questions that arise with group home placement, independent living programs present additional considerations: </li></ul><ul><li>Traditionally, youth placed in independent living programs are nearing the age of 21, at which point they will “age out” of care and no longer be able to receive assistance from the state; they are placed in an apartment, usually with a roommate and in general a scaled down level of supervision and support, as they are given an increased level of freedom expected to work on being independent </li></ul><ul><li>For an LGBT youth not only dealing with being in care, but also working through issues of sexuality, an increased level of support and often supervision is something that LGBT youth in independent living programs often need but may not receive </li></ul>
  14. 14. LGBT Youth in Foster Care <ul><li>Unlike group homes or independent living, foster care can often provide LGBT youth with a more individualized home and pair them with caregivers willing to accept a young person for who they are and allow them to be themselves </li></ul><ul><li>With the proper training and an open mind, a foster parent has the ability to provide a home and loving relationship to LGBT youth </li></ul><ul><li>However, much like other placements, placing an LGBT youth in the home of a foster parent who is not open to the youth’s lifestyle can cause psychological harm and feelings of rejection for LGBT youth </li></ul>
  15. 15. How can you help?
  16. 16. Provide Training to Staff Working with LGBT Youth <ul><li>Accept the fact that many people do not support the LGBT lifestyle; while you as an employer may not be able to change someone’s opinion, it is your responsibility to provide employees the training and resources that will empower them to treat all clients with the same degree of dignity and respect, despite their opinions </li></ul><ul><li>It is also your responsibility as an employer to hold employees responsible if they are not treating all clients with dignity and respect </li></ul>
  17. 17. Make Your Workspace a Safe Space for LGBT Youth <ul><li>Take the necessary steps to ensure that your agency is upholding the rights of everyone, including members of the LGBT community, and be proud of taking this important step </li></ul><ul><li>Place a “Safe Space” Sticker at the entrance to your business or office; this is a universally recognized sign that the space being entered is non discriminatory and a safe space for anyone to enter and be themselves </li></ul>
  18. 18. Evaluate your Workplace Practices and Procedures: Are they LGBT Friendly? <ul><li>Consider the following scenario: </li></ul><ul><li>A 16 year old youth enters your office at the local homeless shelter in need of placement. The youth is wearing a plaid button down shirt, blue jeans and work boots, and is sporting a short haircut. They introduce themselves to you as Andrew, but you can tell by looking at the youth that they were most likely born female; your shelter has strict rules about keeping male and female residents separate, how do you help this client? </li></ul>
  19. 19. Is your Workplace LGBT Friendly? <ul><li>Something as simple as addressing the youth by the name they identify with or having other options on a registration form besides male or female for sexual orientation can tell a youth within the first five minutes of meeting you whether or not you or your agency can be trusted and whether or not you can help them. Working with LGBT youth sometimes requires taking that extra step, thinking outside the box, and most importantly committing yourself to ensuring that you do your part to ensure all clients are treated fairly </li></ul>
  20. 20. Become an Ally: Contact a local or national chapter of an organization that supports LGBT rights or works to help homeless youth, every single dollar, plea for help or letter to a legislator can help an LGBT youth