LOS ANGELES – Foster children are roughly twice as likely to self- identify as LGBTQ than kids outside of foster care, a Los Angeles County supervisor said Tuesday when calling for more support for those children.
“Fully 20 percent of our foster kids identify as LGBTQ,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, citing a 2014 study by the Williams Institute at UCLA and Holarchy Consulting.
The study also found that LGBTQ children are about twice as likely to suffer in the foster care system — more likely to be in a group home, to be hospitalized for emotional reasons, or to spend some time homeless.
Kuehl said she wanted to “get them the love and the services that they deserve.”
Pointing to this weekend’s 27th anniversary of National Coming Out Day, Kuehl proposed that a consultant, working with the interim Office of Child Protection, review programs at every county department working with children. She suggested that staffers might need more training to deal with issues faced by LGBTQ youth.
Williams Institute researchers conducted phone interviews with 786 foster youth ages 12-21 and found that there are “between 1.5 and two times more lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning youth as a percentage of young people in foster care than outside foster care.”
Around 7,400 foster youth, ages 12-21, are in out-of-home care in Los Angeles County in any given month.
The Williams/Holarchy study found that 19 percent, or about 1,400 youth, identify as LGBTQ.
The board approved Kuehl’s proposal [read it here] and a report is expected back in 60 days.
During Kuehl’s presentation, a group of people unhappy with an earlier, unrelated board decision were causing a ruckus in the board room and sparked her outrage.
“I am the first openly gay person elected to this board and you people haven’t the vaguest idea what that means,” Kuehl said, red-faced and angry.
“Your rudeness and … your selfishness about your own issues, without any recognition of what my kids are going through … in the way they are attacked, and I don’t mean just verbally” Kuehl continued, calling on the group to show “a little respect for these children and for my community.”
The group later apologized for the interruption.