The All Children - All Families Benchmarks of LGBTQ Inclusion focus on two key components of LGBTQ-inclusive parent preparation training: 1) ensure trainers have the expertise to welcome LGBTQ foster adoptive parents and 2) adequately preparing all resource parents to be LGBTQ affirming is reviewing and updating parent preparation training activities to ensure LGBTQ inclusion.
All parent preparation training delivered by or required by agencies should be inclusive of both LGBTQ parents that may be in the room and content specific to the needs of LGBTQ youth in care (as applicable to the work of your agency. All agencies, even if they do not provide placement services, must provide LGBTQ-inclusive and supportive information or services to the families they serve.
How to Ensure Trainer Expertise
It’s imperative that all trainers be skilled in creating a safe and affirming atmosphere for LGBTQ prospective parents and discuss content specific to LGBTQ youth in care. Trainers should receive guidance that includes:
- The agency’s relevant policies and mission statements re: LGBTQ inclusion and non-discrimination.
- Tips for creating an LGBTQ-friendly environment.
- Instructions for how to address any direct or indirect homo/bi/transphobic remarks that come up in the class. This includes setting the expectation that any negative remarks should not go unaddressed and the person making the remarks should be held accountable.
- Information for the trainer on how to best support families targeted by negative remarks.
Training should meet the following goals:
- Be inclusive of LGBTQ-headed families as examples of families your agency works with throughout the training. This may also include:
- Information on relevant laws affecting LGBTQ foster and adoptive parents
- LGBTQ community references and family groups for social/community connection
- Matching LGBTQ families with staff who have proven experience working with LGBTQ families
- Discuss LGBTQ youth specifically when covering the diverse population of youth represented in foster care
- Educate prospective resource parents on the importance of LGBTQ affirming behaviors, the harm that rejection causes, and concrete examples of how to support and affirm LGBTQ youth in their homes. Note that not all children and youth feel safe disclosing their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression (SOGIE) or they may not even be aware of their SOGIE at the time of placement. Therefore, it is possible that any child or youth that a parent adopts or fosters, could ultimately “come out” one day.
- Provide opportunities to practice using LGBTQ-inclusive language and build skills for talking about sexual orientation, gender identity and expression comfortably
- Include images, exercises, and examples that are representative of the full diversity of the LGBTQ community (i.e. race, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, physical ability, etc.)
Examples of LGBTQ-inclusive content to include:
- Sample exercises that use LGBTQ families as the focus.
- Sample exercises that use LGBTQ youth in care as the focus.
- Stories that share the experiences of LGBTQ youth in care.
- Stories that share the experiences of LGBTQ families.
- Instructions for organizing an LGBTQ parent panel.
Additional Best Practices
- Consider organizing an LGBTQ foster/adoptive parent panel to be included in the parent preparation training.
- If your agency uses one of the common parent preparation programs such as Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (MAPP) and Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education (PRIDE), you can alter the language and exercises to include LGBTQ families and youth.
- If you outsource the parent training, check in with the trainers to ensure that they have a policy of inclusion and are prepared to provide LGBTQ inclusive training.
- Be mindful not to conflate sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Examples, images, and exercises should reflect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer families (rather than only lesbian and gay families).
- Pay special attention to where you place LGBTQ-inclusive content. It should not be limited to just one slide or one particular section of the presentation. Look for opportunities to be LGBTQ-inclusive throughout the presentation such as when discussing adoption/foster care statistics or other types of prospective families like trans-racial families.
- Consider using videos as an effective medium to share LGBTQ-inclusive stories during training sessions.