LGBTQ people are every race, every color, every shape and size. LGBTQ people hold every kind of job, live in every community, and have rich, wonderful lives full of friends and loved ones. And you will too!
Your Sexual Orientation and Gender Expression (“SOGIE”) is nothing to feel bad about. EVERYBODY HAS ONE. We are all special and deserving of love and support. Your SOGIE is like what hand you use to write with or what color your hair is. It is part of your identity. Some people think it is wrong because it does not fit their world view or what they have been taught.
Your social worker as well as all of the people you come in contact with in the foster care system are required by law to treat you equally and support you in your SOGIE. In the last few years they have received training on how best to work with LGBTQ youth. They should know how to support you and/or to find others who can. You are entitled to be open about your SOGIE, dress in the appropriate clothing that expresses best who you are, get resources to answer your questions, and get competent counseling if you are in distress or need to talk to someone about your SOGIE.
You do not have to stay anywhere in the foster care system that will not support you as an LGBTQ youth. You are entitled to a place to live that is also supportive of your SOGIE. If anyone in your life is not supportive, you can ask for someone who is. This is your right.
However, YOU DO NOT have to come out to your social worker, attorney, biological family, foster parents, group home, or anyone else. The only person who knows the right time for you to come out about your SOGIE is YOU! It is always the best situation if you are able to be fully yourself with everyone. Keeping your SOGIE to yourself can cause you to feel isolated, lonely, hopeless, depressed, and bad about yourself. For many, this can lead to behaviors that are bad for you like:
- Not taking care of yourself
- Engaging in unsafe sex
- Using drugs and alcohol to dull your feelings
- Dropping out of school
- Thinking about committing suicide
While it is important that you live your life true to who you are, sometimes it is not safe because you are in an unaccepting environment. It is okay for you to choose not to share your SOGIE in these cases. Still, it is important for you to find someone you trust to tell and who can help you find answers to your questions, resources about your SOGIE, and information about your rights and access to the LGBTQ community and support services. When you are ready, know that there are many, many people out there just like you. You will find supportive friends and everything you need to achieve your goals and a happy life.
To know more about your rights as an LGBTQ person, you can get the publication “It’s Your Life: A Guide to Legal Rights for LGBT Youth in Foster Care, or you can view it here.
If you need any assistance, have other questions or would like to get involved with other LGBTQ youth, you can call or email the LifeWorks program at the Los Angeles LGBTQ Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 323-860-7373. All LifeWorks staff can assist you and all LifeWorks programs are free of charge. You can also get more information about LifeWorks programs on our website,
If you need a more supportive foster care placement, you can tell your social worker about RISE at the Los Angeles LGBTQ Center. They can call LifeWorks for a referral.