Thursday, June 2, 2011

Obama Administration will address Homeless Gay Teens

    ACF Commissioner Bryan Samuels
    The Obama Administration is getting into the heart of the matter with homeless LGBT youth.  ACF Commissioner Bryan Samuels took the lead by creating a memo about homeless LGBT youth and how child welfare agencies can effectively care for these teens. Those efforts moved onward and upward to the Obama Administration:
    The feds are intent on making up for lost time -- and not with memos. The Obama administration is spending millions on a pilot program in L.A. County aimed at assisting LGBTQ youth in the child-welfare system, Samuels said.

    Congress has taken up the issue as well. On May 3, Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) reintroduced legislation that would ban discrimination of gay parents in adoption and foster care placements. Rep. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) signed on as the first Republican co-sponsor of the bill at the end of the month.
    "My home state of Florida had discriminatory laws in place that were preventing caring parents from adoption," she said in a statement. "This Federal bill is a step in the right direction so that the proper match between responsible parent and needy child can take place regardless of the parent's sexual orientation."

    In mid-May, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) introduced the Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act. More than 40 organizations and nonprofits signed on in support of the legislation.
    Tucked into the bill, which calls for stronger supports for state wards, is a provision that HHS must create a five-year pilot program aimed at preventing families from rejecting gay children. The accompanying press release highlighted this angle. "There are common sense reforms we can implement to help make things better for LGBT youth," Kerry wrote.
    This will take some time to be at a strong place, but these efforts are way better than several years ago.

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