Effectively Working With Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Transgender Youth

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1 Effectively Working With Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Transgender Youth Heidi Stern-Ellis, LCSW Al Killen-Harvey, LCSW 1

2 Factors To Consider When Working With L/G/B/T/Q Youth Stage of identity development Presenting Issue Cultural Factors Family Support System Organizational Culture Personal Beliefs/Experiences Community Resources 2

3 Definition of Terms Sexual Identity- A term that describes an individual s sense of their own sexuality, including the complex relationship of sex and gender as components of identity. Includes a biopsychosocial integration of biological sex, gender identity, gender roles expression and sexual orientation. Gender Identity- A person s self concept of their gender (regardless of their biological sex). 3

4 DEFINITION OF TERMS GAY- A male who forms his primary loving, sexual, and/or intimate relationships with other men. Gay men have an affectional, emotional, romantic and/or erotic preference for other men. LESBIAN- A woman who forms her primary loving, sexual and/or intimate relationships with other women. Lesbians have an affectional, emotional, romantic and/or erotic preference for other women. 4

5 DEFINITION OF TERMS BISEXUAL- A man or woman who is emotionally, sexually and/or intimately attracted to members of either sex- not necessarily at the same time. TRANSGENDER- Literally means to cross gender lines. This term may include transsexual, transvestite and/or cross- dresser. 5

6 Definition of Terms Intersex- A person who has physical sex characteristics, often including ambiguous genitalia, of both male and female (previously referred to as hermaphrodites). Historically a gender determination has been made at birth often accompanied by a surgical procedure. Much controversy about this today. 6

7 Stage of identity development Pre-encounter encounter Encounter Immersion Internalization Synthesis/Commitment 7

8 Stages of Identity Development PRE-ENCOUNTER ENCOUNTER The individual sees themselves as belonging in the mainstream. Often has no information/exposure to other identity groups. Defenses can be quite high during this stage. 8

9 Stages of Identity Developement ENCOUNTER Initial exposure to gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgendered concept. The encounters may be thoughts, feelings and/or behaviors with someone of the same sex or may be intellectual, academic or social exposure to information. Vulnerability and confusion can be quite high during this stage. Internalized homophobia may play out significantly during this time. 9

10 Stages of Identity Development IMMERSION- The sponge stage. The individual begins to explore aspects related to their sexuality. This may include intellectual, social, physical and/or sexual experiences. Rehearsal play may occur where the individual practices various aspects of this newfound identity- often causing confusion and/or alienation to those around them. This stage is necessary for a healthy sense of self- can occur at any age. 10

11 Stages of Identity Development INTERNALIZATION The acceptance stage of identity development. I understand this to be who I am. This often results in a sense of grief and loss in addition to clarity and acceptance. 11

12 Stages of Identity Development SYNTHESIS & COMMITMENT Now the individual begins the process of addressing the other life issues that all people face (relationship forming, career goals, family formation, etc.). Includes a profound understanding that not everyone will accept this part of who I am but that does not change my sense of self. 12

13 Presenting Issues within the Child Welfare Arena Sexual Abuse Physical Abuse Foster Placement/Group Home Adoption 13

14 Presenting Issues within the Child Welfare Arena Depression/Suicide Chemical Dependency/Abuse (meth) Homelessness (Survival Sex) School Drop Out Health Risks (STI s, Pregnancy, etc.) 14

15 Sexual Abuse Lack of safe arenas to discuss sexual orientation places l/g/b/t/q youth at higher risk levels for sexual exploitation/abuse Youth often fear that disclosing sexual abuse (particularly same gender abuse) will also disclose their sexual orientation 15

16 Physical Abuse A number of population-based studies have documented a higher rate of physical abuse by family members among LGB people compared to their heterosexual peers (Horliss, Cochran & Mays, Child Abuse and Neglect, 26, 2002; Waldo, Hesson-McInnis & D Augelli, American Journal of Community Psychology, 26, 1998) 16

17 Foster Placement Assembly Bill (AB)458 It is the policy of the State of California that ALL children in foster care shall have the following rights (1-22): (22)To have fair and equal access to all available services, placement, care, treatment, and benefits, and to not be subjected to discrimination or harassment on the basis of actual or perceived race, ethnic group identification..sex, sexual orientation, gender identity..or HIV status. 17

18 Adoption Explore the parallel process of l/g identity formation and adopted child identity formation with the prospective adopting parent(s) (Murphy & Dillon, Interviewing in Action, 2003) 18

19 Cultural Factors Ethnicity Race Religion Economics Cognitive Abilities Community Factors (urban/rural,etc.) 19

20 Family Support System Does the family know that sexual identity is an issue for the client? How has the family responded to other diversity issues amongst family members Family Acceptance Project Findings (SFSU) Safety issues Legal/ethical issues 20

21 Organizational Culture Policies of your organization Formal Informal Practices of your organization Forms Intake Procedure Language 21

22 Personal Beliefs/Experiences How do I really feel about gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender people? Just because you are doesn t mean you can and just because you aren t doesn t mean you can t. 22

23 Community Resources Know what s available in your community Be sure to ask specifically how often a referral source has worked directly with l/g/b/t clients Utilize the internet Utilize informed colleagues/peers 23

24 Resources The Trevor Project: A national 24-hour, toll free confidential suicide hotline for gay and questioning youth U-Trevor ( ) Child Welfare League of America: Children's advocacy organization active in lobbying and humanitarian projects in the US. National Center of Lesbian Rights: A legal center with a primary commitment to advancing the rights and safety of lesbians and their families rights.org 24

25 Resources The National Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Centers (NALGBTCC). HRC :The Human Rights Campaign is America s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality hrc.org 25

26 Resources Family Acceptance Project : (FAP) is a community research, intervention and training initiative to study the impact of family acceptance and rejection on the health, mental health and well-being of lesbian, gay and bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth familyproject.sfsu.edu Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays : National organization for education, advocacy and support for families and friends of LGBT persons. Chapters are available in all states check website for local chapters and educational materials for families 26

27 Resources Children of Gays Everywhere: (COLAGE) National organization for children of LGBT parents Family Pride Coalition: National organization to provide advocacy and support for LGBT parents and their families 27

28 Resources Gender Pac: Organization to provide education and promote advocacy to end discrimination and violence caused by gender stereotypes. National conference, training, gender law information, resources for transgender youth LLEGÓ National Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Organization 28

29 RESOURCES GLSEN : Gay, Lesbian, Straight Educators Network National organization for advocacy and information to promote safer schools. GSA Network: Gay, Straight Alliance Network: Youth-led organization to provide networking and support for GSAs 29

30 On Line Resources for Youth Youth Resource: Online peer-based sexual health education by and for LGBTQ youth ages Includes peer health educators, info for LGBT youth of color, young women, deaf, and rural youth en Español Youth Guardian Services: On-line peer-supervised support groups for LGBT youth (ages 13-17, 17, 17-21, and 21-25), 25), and youth with an LGBT family member. 30

31 Books Child Welfare : Special Issue: LGBTQ Youth in Child Welfare (VO. LXXXV #2, March/April 2006) Lesbian and Gay Youth: Ryan, Caitlin & Futterman, Donna Let s Get This Straight: A Gay and Lesbian Affirming Approach to Child Welfare: Mallon, Gary Lesbian and Gay Foster and Adoptive Parents: An Untapped Resource for Children and Families : Mallon, Gary 31

32 THANK YOU! 32

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