LGBTQ cultural competency

  •  September 26, 2016

We know that LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) youth are disproportionately represented in the child-welfare system and that they often experience discrimination and maltreatment in substitute care. So LCFS engaged All Children All Families (a project of the Human Rights Campaign – in providing training so that our staff could learn best practices for partnering with LGBTQ youth and LGBTQ families. Our ultimate goal is for LCFS to receive the Seal of Recognition from the Human Rights Campaign, which is awarded when an agency demonstrates that it meets key benchmarks in LGBTQ cultural competency.

LGBTQ training
LCFS’ Corrie Teresi (l), Lutherbrook’s transition coordinator and Oriana Kilgore (r) Foster Care counselor

Our staff were very engaged in the three-day training provided by All Children All Families. Some of the areas of learning that they were most eager to bring to their practice included:

  • Linguistic competency: Staff learned that words matter a lot in affirming LGBTQ youth and families. Our choice of words, whether in providing child care in residential treatment or licensing families, sends a powerful message about how welcome they are. We learned a broad range of terminologies as they relate to the LGBTQ community and practiced using inclusive language, all of which staff felt would be very helpful in their work.
  • Alert to cues: Staff learned that the discrimination and mistreatment that is so often experienced by the LGBTQ community results in their being especially alert to cues in the physical environment that indicate if their needs will be attended to. Staff used the training to identify ways in which our physical environment, such as waiting rooms and group-living areas, could include messages that were affirming to the LGBTQ community.
  • Community safety: Staff learned the importance of safety for a community that has so often experienced trauma and rejection. Staff developed strategies to proactively create safe environments for LGBTQ youth.

The value of the training was summed up nicely by LCFS Vice President and Chief Program Officer Beverly Jones, “It is imperative that as an agency we continue to strengthen our efforts to welcome all people, especially those who have frequently experienced discrimination, racism and alienation.”

LGBTQ training
LCFS’ Doug Cablk (l) and Laurie Lawton (r) participate in a role-playing exercise with trainer Robin McHaelen, executive director of True Colors, Inc.

Picture at top of page: Trainers Nia Clark (l), mentoring coordinator for LifeWorks Program and Robin McHaelen (r) address the group.

– Lutherbrook Executive Director Brent Diers

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