Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning/queer (LGBTQ) youth and their families live in all regions of the state, yet are often invisible to communities and institutions, including the child welfare system. LGBTQ youth and their families have strengths and needs, and some may come into contact with the child welfare system, as some heterosexual youth and families do.
LGBTQ youth are members of all racial and ethnic cultures, communities and religions. Although active homophobia, or anti-LGBTQ attitudes and actions have decreased over time, violence and bullying against LGBTQ individuals still occurs regularly across the country. Heterosexism, the assumption that everyone is heterosexual, and that heterosexuality is the preferred sexual orientation, remains prevalent. This assumption leads to invisibility of the LGBTQ population.
Although this community is sometimes invisible, LGBTQ youth live in all regions, including urban, suburban, tribal and rural areas. Many LGBTQ youth face discrimination and lack of understanding from school personnel, peers, social service staff, medical providers, religious communities and their families. It is the ethical and professional responsibility of child welfare social workers to support and strengthen all youth and families that they serve, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.