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Politics & Policy

New state bill would provide greater protections for LGBTQ foster youth

State Sen. Scott Wiener speaks at a press conference at City Hall on July 28, 2022. | Juliana Yamada/The Standard

A new bill introduced Friday would ensure LGBTQ youth in the California foster care system have more protections.

Introduced by state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, Senate Bill 407 would create specific documentation procedures, more follow-ups from the Department of Social Services and criteria for at-home assessments for foster youth who identify themselves as LGBTQ.

If passed, the bill would require LGBTQ acceptance in the resource family approval process, and could deny families the right to host a foster child if they engage in conduct that puts the health and safety of a LGBTQ youth at risk.

The hope is to ensure LGBTQ foster youth are not placed in homes where they will be treated poorly and discriminated against because of their identity.

According to a study by the Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to suicide prevention in the LGBTQ community, young people who received at-home support for their gender identity were 93% less likely to attempt suicide than those who did not feel supported.

READ MORE: Today’s Wave of Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation Actually Began in San Francisco

“These youth are at high risk for homelessness, criminal justice involvement, and mental health issues, and we must do everything in our power to ensure they have a safe home in the state of California,” Wiener said in a statement.

California previously passed a bill in 2019 that granted foster youth the right to be referred to by their preferred name and pronouns, and that they could maintain privacy of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Foster youth also have the right to be cared for by people who received instruction on LGBTQ-competent care.

The proposed bill would add on to these rights by including protections in the family approval process.

“Supportive and affirming homes for LGBTQ+ foster youth saves lives,” said Christine Stoner-Mertz, CEO of the California Alliance of Child and Family Services, which is a co-sponsor of the bill. “The CA Alliance is excited to partner with Senator Wiener on SB 407 to ensure that all LGBTQ+ foster youth have affirming families and feel safe, supported, and cared for.”