A Post for Pride

June is Pride Month for the LGBTQIA+ community which is a cause for celebration, but this past week has been hard for this community (and several others) because of the tragedy in Orlando. I’ve had a lot to say in my personal life about what happened and in the process I came out via social media (scary but affirming so far). Additionally, my good friend Erin asked two weeks ago about services Social Services has for LGBTQIA+ people so now seems like a pretty opportune time to answer this question.

Doing some quick research on my own, I found that the Virginia Department of Social Services has a training module dedicated to preventing harassment, bullying, and discrimination against LGBTQ individuals who are seeking services related to domestic violence (this is the specific title but most of the module can be used in other instances and also makes references to creating a safe work environment for coworkers). This module includes a seven step process for addressing everyday bigotry, a section that debunks myths about serving the LGBT community, and some example scenarios for practice. Some of the language isn’t 100% inclusive, that being said, I also don’t know how old this PowerPoint is. But given how thorough this particular module is, I would be surprised by a negative response to any suggested corrections. If anyone would like to take a look at it, it can be found here.

I’ve also been working with one of the foster care workers and I discovered that the application to be a foster parent states that the applicant may not discriminate against a child based on gender identity or sexual orientation among other things. Meaning they can’t refuse to take in a child for these reasons alone or they cannot stop caring for a child for these reasons if they become aware of the child’s gender identity or sexual orientation after they have already agreed to take the child in. I know this seems like a formality and that most institutions have to include information on anti-discrimination laws but the fact that this extends to foster care makes me feel a whole lot better. LGBTQIA+ kids can end up involved with CPS because of abuse attributed to their parents’ feelings on their identity and one in four kids becomes homeless the day they come out to their parents. Knowing that the people who want to be foster parents see the anti-discrimination part of the application and think “taking care of this child is more important to me than anything else I could know about them” seems really fantastic to me. I have a lot of feelings about foster parents and I’d say 98% of them are good feelings. Thank you to any foster parent reading this.

The Department of Social Services also requires that administrators of assisted living programs take a one hour LGBT training to be certified. This is more of a state level thing so it’s not something I’ve encountered personally. The general idea though is that employees in assisted living programs should be sensitive to their clients and that clients shouldn’t have to be concerned about closeting themselves just because they’re going into a new living situation. Makes sense to me and I personally really appreciate the idea that that’s not something I would have to worry about when I get older.

This information is the most broad I could find/is what I have personally encountered. It may not be all encompassing and if I find out more then I will certainly update. Finally, I just want everyone who’s keeping up with me to know that I won’t be posting next week because I’ll be out of town. I’m going to be celebrating my birthday as well as Pride. So when I come back, I hope to bring you another great post to make up for missing a week.

More in two weeks!

orlando

2 comments ↓

#1 Erin Grasse on 06.15.16 at 4:16 pm

This information is all really great to know; I’m glad Social Services is invested in caring for, respecting, and assisting everyone they come across!

#2 Suzanne Raitt on 06.27.16 at 12:01 pm

Congratulations on coming out. That is a major rite of passage – it can feel like a big commitment – and I am really glad that the process has felt affirming. Great post as usual. It was interesting to read about the gender inclusive policies in the foster care environment at VA social services. Once you start to think about all the everyday ramifications for trans individuals – perhaps especially trans children – it seems never-ending and it is encouraging to see social service organizations being proactive. As you say, it’s a way of letting foster parents know what they may encounter before they sign up. Have a great birthday and a great week!

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