Supporting LGBTIQA+ children in foster care
All children have the right to live in a safe and nurturing environment, free from discrimination and with the freedom to express themselves.
When you become a foster carer, you foster children from all backgrounds including LGBTIQA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse, intersex, queer and asexual) children and young people.
Foster carers can play a significant role in creating a positive space for children to begin to understand their sexuality or gender identity. When children and young people are supported and accepted for who they are, studies have found that their wellbeing, mental and physical health outcomes are significantly improved.
Children and young people often develop an awareness of themselves at a young age or prior to adolescence. Depending on the age of children and young people in your care, they might be just beginning to express their sexuality or gender identity, or they may have ‘come out’ as LGBTIQA+.
For trans and gender diverse children and young people, puberty can also be a time of distress as changes begin happening to their bodies. In school or at community events, children and young people may have to navigate gendered environments and activities, such as school camps, toilets, school uniforms and sporting teams.
Every child and young person’s journey is different, but all will benefit from being accepted and encouraged to be themselves.
How can foster carers support LGBTIQA+ children, or children exploring their sexuality or gender?
Rob*, a teenage boy, began expressing himself in how he styled his hair and nails. Although he had not yet felt comfortable to express his sexuality to his foster carers yet, he felt supported to express how he was seen in the world and his foster carers supported him in getting his nails done regularly. This sent a powerful message to Rob that his expression was affirmed and welcomed, free from judgement and shame.
There are many ways to provide support to a child or young person, including:
Asking which pronouns they prefer to be called (i.e. she/her, he/him, they/them)
Supporting trans and gender diverse children and young people if they wish to go by a different name
Being supportive of their clothes, make up or fashion styles
Encouraging children and young people to be expressive
Asking questions, being curious and being guided by the young person; – make yourself available to listen without asking intrusive questions
Addressing and having conversations about homophobia or bullying as well as having ‘zero tolerance’ to homophobia and bullying in your home
Assessing and reflecting on your own awareness, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours toward people who are LGBTIQA+
Displaying and sharring symbols, images, and resources that accept and affirm the identity of young people who are LGBTIQA+
Being guided by young people and respecting their coming out process
It is important to remember that you don’t have to have all the answers. Some of the most powerful things you can offer any child or young person in your care include being there, listening, and creating a safe and non-judgement space for expression.
As a foster carer, you are not alone and will be assisted by your foster care agency to provide the care and support that children and young people need.
Interested in becoming a foster carer?
All kinds of kids need all kinds of foster carers. Fostering Connections welcomes carers from all backgrounds including LGBTIQA+ people.