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HRC celebrates National Adoption Month

(Editor's note: The following post is part of HRC’s celebration of National Adoption Month and comes from Garry Bevel, Director of the Commission on Youth-at-Risk at the American Bar Association, and a member of the All Children – All Families national advisory council.)

We snicker, but children are our future and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

As LGBT people and allies fighting for full legal equality, we want a future full of young LGBTQ people happy and healthy enough to take advantage of expanded legal rights like marriage equality, right? We want a generation of leaders who continue the march for inclusion, workplace protection, and freedom of expression, right? Then we have to start investing in them now. 

LGBTQ youth make up 5-10% of the overall youth population and yet 20-40% of the homeless youth population.

LGBTQ youth are also overrepresented in the child welfare system, and many of these youth have been abandoned or mistreated by their families because they are LGBTQ. 30% of LGBTQ youth reported suffering physical violence at the hands of a family member after coming out. LGBTQ youth from a rejecting home are nearly 9X more likely to attempt suicide than their LGBT peers from supporting homes.

And yet, when gay and transgender youth were accepted by their families, they were much more likely to believe they would have a good life and would be a happy, productive adult. That’s what we all want: young people who believe they can be happy and healthy regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Young people in accepting homes and placed with accepting families.

HRC’s All Children – All Families project builds the capacity of child welfare agencies to recruit, retain, and include LGBT foster and adoptive parents. All Children – All Families also builds agency capacity to respond thoughtfully, effectively and compassionately to the needs and experiences of LGBTQ youth in the child welfare system. All Children All Families, The Family Acceptance Project, Opening Doors for LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care, the Equity Project, and many other projects are doing incredible work to increase the number of children placed into safe, permanent, affirming homes, and kept out of homelessness, the foster care and juvenile justice systems.

HRC’s recent survey of LGBTQ youth found that 92 percent hear negative messages about LGBTQ people, and nearly one third of LGBTQ youth surveyed did not have a trusted adult they can talk to. 

So what can you do to combat those negative messages? Are there youth in your life in need of a trusted adult to turn to? What will you do during National Adoption Month and going forward to give ALL of our kids a better future?

For starters, now is a perfect opportunity to talk to friends, family, co-workers, leaders, policy-makers, and legislators about what fostering, adoption, and support of projects like HRC’s All Children – All Families can mean in building safety, permanency and well-being for vulnerable young people. Beyond this, consider becoming a foster parent, or an adoptive parent, or being a youth mentor at one of your local youth-serving organizations (check out CASA – National CASA is participating in All Children – All Families and many local affiliates are as well).

This month, and beyond, we all have a role to play in ensuring a bright future for all children and youth in our communities.

Stay tuned to the HRC blog for more throughout National Adoption Month and visit www.hrc.org/issues/adoption for more resources.

(Editors note: This post was originally published on the HRC blog.)