On March 26, 2019, Texas CASA hosted a powerful and enlightening conversation with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) clergy members and LGBTQ-affirming congregations as part of our Clergy, CASA and Community initiative.
As you may know, over the past year, Texas CASA has been hosting discussions with CASA programs, CPS representatives and faith leaders from all across the state. We aim to better understand how we can engage faith communities to partner with CASA in recruiting more volunteers to advocate for children in foster care.
According to a recent study, 30.4% of youth in care identify as LGBTQ, compared to 11.2% of the general youth population. This disparity is due in large part to the fact that for children, coming out to family members can lead to verbal and physical harassment, abuse and even full-on rejection. This makes them more likely than their non-LGBTQ peers to experience homelessness and/or end up in foster care.
Once they are in care, these youth face all the same challenges and barriers their non-LGBTQ peers face, such as trauma, placement changes, falling behind in school, mental health challenges and more – but with the added layer of fear of further rejection, abuse and harassment if they are open about their identity. For these reasons and more, it is crucial that CASA and all others who serve these children are ready and willing to help meet their unique needs and keep them safe.
“We had great, productive discussions at this meeting, and everyone was engaged,” said Texas CASA Recruitment and Retention Officer Dennise Jackson. “But what I took away, most of all, is that there is still a lot of work to be done, both within Texas CASA and the CASA community, on our journey to engage the LGBTQ community and best serve LGBTQ youth in foster care.”
Read an in-depth exploration of this meeting, including key takeaways, in The CASA Voice.