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Student Paper

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Despite the existence of LGBTQ anti-discrimination laws, LGBTQ youth are still being discriminated against within the foster care system. The primary cause of all youth homelessness is family conflict, and LGBTQ youth are more susceptible to family conflict when they come out to their parents. The Williams Institute surveyed 354 agencies throughout the United States who work with LGBTQ homeless populations and found that 68% of clients have experienced family rejection. The True Colors Fund notes that more than 1 in 4 LGBTQ teens are forced to leave their homes after coming out to their parents. LGBTQ youth also face more abuse and neglect than their heterosexual counterparts which are also major causes of their homelessness. 63% of young people who identify as LGBTQ have experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse and 52% have reported neglect before becoming homeless.

LGBTQ+ youth flee or are forced out of their homes because of who they are and unfortunately, that is only the beginning of a cycle of trauma and pain. Many youth are funneled into the welfare system which is meant to protect them but they are once again subjected to rejection, hostility, and/or lack of resources aimed at helping them. The ill-prepared child welfare system causes LGBTQ youth to believe they are better off homeless than in the system. Legislation that addresses sexual orientation and gender identity expression (SOGIE) on both a Federal and State level could end this cycle of trauma by transforming the child welfare system. Part I of this paper will explain the problems youth face in the child welfare system, Part II will analyze current legislation and Part III will propose recommendations for new legislation and amendments to current legislation. Part IV will conclude with the best mechanisms for enforcing anti-discrimination laws.


Paper submitted for Poverty Law class taught by Professor Michele Benedetta Neitz.