All Children - All Families: LGBTQ+ Resources for Youth-Serving Professionals

All Children - All Families: LGBTQ+ Resources for Youth-Serving Professionals

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The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s All Children – All Families program has created a variety of guides and resources to assist youth-serving professionals on a full range of issues facing LGBTQ+ youth. From how to respond to LGBTQ+ misconceptions all the way through supporting LGBTQ+ youth in foster care. We hope you find the resources below helpful and informative.

To learn more about the All Children – All Families program, please visit, or sign up for our Field Forward newsletter.

Beginner's Guide to LGBTQ+ Inclusion

LGBTQ+ people live in every county across the U.S. Simply put: if you work in child welfare, you can safely assume that you have LGBTQ+ youth and parents coming through your doors to access services. In fact, LGBTQ+ youth are overrepresented in foster care and LGBTQ+ adults are most likely to be raising children in states with the least amount of legal protections -- not only in places like New York City.

Despite recent progress toward legal and social equality for LGBTQ+ Americans, societal stigma remains strong and LGBTQ+ youth and parents continue to be vulnerable to discrimination. Now -- as some lawmakers work to legalize discrimination against LGBTQ+ youth and parents -- it is perhaps more important than ever for child welfare systems to take action to ensure LGBTQ+ youth and parents receive the services they deserve free from discrimination. This is not only the right thing to do. It is necessary work in order to ensure compliance with federal standards around LGBTQ+ non-discrimination and the best practice recommendations of leading professional associations.

Every single child welfare professional -- from frontline workers to administrators and executives -- has a role to play and this Beginner’s Guide to LGBTQ+ Inclusion is designed to give you ideas of where to start.

Responding to Harmful Misconceptions About LGBTQ+ People

As a child welfare professional, you may find yourself confronted with homo/bi/transphobic beliefs and statements from time to time. You may want to stand up for LGBTQ+ people or correct misconceptions but find it difficult to respond to these situations in a confident, effective, and articulate way.​

The sample language​ in this guide was compiled to help you refute harmful misconceptions about LGBTQ+ people, and to do so knowledgeably and confidently.

Pronouns 101

What is a pronoun?

A pronoun is a word used to refer to either the people who are talking (like “I” or “you”) or a person being talked about in the third person (like “she/her,” “he/him,” and “they/them”). Since some pronouns are gendered (“she/her” and “he/him”), it is important to be intentional about the way we use pronouns as we all work to create as inclusive an environment as possible.

Why do pronouns matter?

Ask yourself how many times someone has used your name or a pronoun to refer to you today. Chances are this has happened countless times. Now, imagine that your coworker, or a family member, or your doctor or a friend routinely calls you by the wrong pronoun. That would be hard. This is why using a person’s chosen name and pronouns is essential to affirming their identity and showing basic respect. The experience of being misgendered – having someone use the incorrect pronouns to refer to you – can be uncomfortable and hurtful. The experience of accidentally misgendering someone can be difficult for both parties. Routinely asking and providing pronouns helps everyone avoid assumptions and feel comfortable interacting.

Pronoun Etiquette Tips

  • Create opportunities for people to share their pronouns with you rather than assuming you know their pronouns based on their appearance. For example, when introducing yourself share your pronouns like this:
    • In one-on-one conversation: “Hi, I’m John and I go by he/him. Nice to meet you.”
    • In a meeting: “Hi everyone. I’m Mollie. I’m the senior program manager and I go by she/her.”
    • In your e-mail signature next to your name: E. Wilson (pronouns: they/them/theirs)
  • If you don’t know someone’s pronouns, it’s okay to ask. You can say, “What pronouns do you use?” or “What pronouns do you go by?” or “What pronouns would you like me to use when I refer to you?”
  • Always use someone’s chosen (preferred) pronouns unless you’ve been asked not to do so for a specific reason (e.g., safety or privacy concerns).
  • Practice! Practice! Practice! It takes intention to consistently use someone’s correct pronouns if you previously used different pronouns for that person or if you’re using pronouns that are new to you. Take the time to practice referring to the person with the correct pronouns in conversation and in written communication. (Tip: Worried about misgendering someone in an email? Do a quick “CTRL+F” and search for any use of an incorrect pronoun before hitting send.)
  • If you make a mistake, apologize and move on. Help others by gently correcting them if they misgender someone.

Caring for LGBTQ+ Children & Youth

Unfortunately, we know LGBTQ+ youth are disproportionately represented in the child welfare system and often face discrimination and mistreatment in out-of-home care. This guide includes information on terminology and several basic, but key, tips on how to best support and care for LGBTQ+ children and youth. Also included are resources and helpful websites for more information to competently serve all children and youth in care, including those who may identify as or be perceived as LGBTQ+.

Special thanks to the Alameda County Social Services Agency Department of Children and Family Services. This resource has been adapted from Caring for Alameda County LGBTQ+ Children and Youth, which was prepared by the Alameda County Social Services Agency Department of Children and Family Services’ LGBTQ+ Workgroup.

Promising Practices Guide
in Adoption and Foster Care

The "Promising Practices" guide is the first comprehensive, practical tool aimed to help adoption and foster care agencies as well as exchange organizations improve policies and practices that affect their work with LGBTQ+ prospective parents.

It features sample policies and materials, along with tips from leaders of welcoming agencies and exchange organizations, researchers in the field and LGBTQ+ adoptive and foster parents. Topics include leadership and governance; staff training and recruitment strategies; pre-adoption services; home study practices; placement; services for foster parents; post-permanency support for adoptive families and retention of foster families.

Serving Transgender & Non-Binary Foster & Adoptive Parents

“Promising Practices for Serving Transgender & Non-Binary Foster & Adoptive Parents” is a first-of-its-kind comprehensive guide for child welfare professionals seeking to intentionally recruit, certify and support transgender and non-binary adults to serve as resource parents for young people in care. The guide covers key lessons learned through interviews with transgender and non-binary foster and adoptive parents as well as agency administrators from across the U.S.

Preview of Guide Content

This guide is intended for a range of audiences inside child welfare agencies and arranged by key areas of need. You can read from front-to-back or jump to specific sections addressing current challenges:

  • Section I: Introduction. A look at research on transgender and non-binary parents and the unique strengths they can bring to foster care and adoption; an overview of key terms and concepts related to gender identity and expression; and keys to success by your role in an agency.
  • Section II: Guiding Principles for Leadership. An issue-by-issue guide for administrators working to build an agency inclusive of people of all genders, and offer services rooted in cultural humility, including: transgender and non-binary inclusive non-discrimination policies; data collection on gender identity; creating an inclusive agency environment (i.e., amending forms, addressing gender-segregated facilities, displaying key literature and signage); engaging local organizations; training staff and gathering community feedback.
  • Section III: Resource Parent Certification Process from A-Z. An overview of promising practices for frontline workers, supervisors and advocates to consider while guiding prospective transgender and non-binary resource parents through the certification process from recruitment to post-placement support.
  • Section IV: Tools for Agencies. Tools to support child welfare agencies implementing the practices offered in this guide, including: a checklist for creating gender-inclusive events; affirming questions on gender identity; resources to share with transgender and non-binary parents and a glossary of terms.

Other Resources from HRC

Field Forward Newsletter

Subscribe to Field Forward, a monthly newsletter from HRC Foundation's All Children - All Families project that offers best practice resources based on challenges and inquiries that you and your peers are currently navigating – allowing you to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to supporting and serving LGBTQ+ youth and families. Each newsletter will also feature the latest child welfare resources, share examples of how agencies like yours are leading the field, and much more!

Newsletter Archive