Madeleine needed someone to step up.

All children deserve a family. Too many LGBTQ youth come out to family members only to face rejection, hatred, and violence. Those facing the most extreme levels of family rejection and maltreatment are often forced out of their homes, or will run away, becoming homeless or entering the foster care system.

These LGBTQ children and youth in Louisiana’s foster care system continue to face heartbreaking challenges partially because too few affirming families are willing to step up as foster parents. 

A few years ago, Louisiana Trans Advocates had the opportunity to step up and provide support for a child in foster care who, because of her gender identity, faced violence and discrimination. Madeleine* was placed in foster care after losing her single parent to illness with a foster parent who was not prepared to meet her needs as a transgender child. 

Shortly after entering foster care, Madeleine was violently assaulted and ran away from foster care, ultimately ending up hungry, without housing, and a year behind in school.

If Madeleine had been placed with a family that was prepared to provide support to transgender youth, this could have been prevented. But unfortunately, there aren’t enough LGBTQ-affirming families to ensure that our youth are placed in safe, affirming homes.

“I was told that foster families didn’t want a gay kid in their home, so I grew up in group homes and residential centers where I was abused sexually, physically and emotionally.”

– Kristopher, eight years in foster care

That’s where you come in. One study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law found that 1 in 5 youth in foster care are LGBTQ. That’s hundreds of children in Louisiana who are more likely to experience discrimination, violence, and even incarceration than their peers.

These children need people to step up and become foster parents. The more LGBTQ-affirming placements are available, the less likely LGBTQ youth will end up in homes that don’t accept them.

Visit the website of the Department of Children and Family Services to learn more about becoming a foster parent. Your willingness to step up for LGBTQ children and youth could change a young person’s life forever.

*Name changed to protect the identity of the youth

Dylan Waguespack