Session: Voices of Lgbtqia+ Youth in Care (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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198 Voices of Lgbtqia+ Youth in Care

Friday, January 22, 2021: 1:15 PM-2:15 PM
Cluster: Child Welfare
Symposium Organizer:
Gerald P. Mallon, DSW, Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College
LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, asexual/agender and other sexualities and/or gender expressions) children and youth in the child protection system (CPS) face important inequalities and challenges compared to their non-LGBTQIA+ peers in care. LGBTQIA+ children and youth in the CPS are confronted with a double dilemma, the challenge of being in care and those associated with their Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE). Despite studies showing that LGBTQIA+ youth are largely overrepresented in the CPS, they often remain overlooked and invisible to practitioners and researchers. There is evidence to suggest that their SOGIE plays a significant role in their referral to care, permanency challenges, and in the negative experiences while in care, such as harassment, violence, bullying and discrimination. As a result of this often unwelcoming and unsafe care environments, LGBTQIA+ children and youth are at greater risk for diminished physical and mental health.

Although research on the lives of LGBTQIA+ children and youth in care has received increased attention in the last years, it continues being an under-research field internationally. Developing further the knowledge base about the experiences of LGBTQIA+ children and youth growing up in the CPS is an important step towards the creation of safe and welcoming environments where these children and youth can fully develop and thrive.

In line with the theme of EUSARF 2020, we want to spotlight the importance of the LGBTQIA+ children and youth perspectives in care. In order to develop a better CPS that promotes the wellbeing of all children regardless of their different identities and statuses, we need to allow their voices to emerge to express their needs, feelings and points of view. Children and youth in the CPS experience barriers to being heard and considered in the decisions relevant to their lives. However, LGBTQIA+ youth in care may experience an even greater silencing as they are often socialized to hide. Researchers and practitioners have an ethical obligation to make space for these voices to emerge.

* noted as presenting author
Queer Youth in the Child Welfare System - Consequences of Misconceptions
Veronika Paulsen, PhD, Norwegian University of Science and Technol
The Audre Project: Individual and Community-Based Resilience of Lgbtqia+ Youth in out-of-Home Care in the Netherlands
Victor Rodrigo Alvarez, Masters degree, University of Groningen; Mijntje ten Brummelaar, PhD, University of Groningen; Mónica López López, PhD, University of Groningen
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