Brenham CASA Program Takes Initiative for LGBTQ Youth in Care

On June 7, 2019, CASA for Kids of South Central Texas held a CASA Café focused on educating CASA volunteers on advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) youth in care. Led by Currey Cook, a civil rights lawyer with experience fighting for the LGBTQ community, the CASA Café focused on starting a dialogue to begin educating not only CASA advocates, but the community at large.

Director of Advocacy Mandy Wright, who planned the event, was asked why holding a LGBTQ training was important.

“We serve children who identify as LGBTQ. We work with placements that are LGBTQ,” she said. “We need to understand the rights of the youth identifying as LGBTQ so we can be a better voice and advocate for them.”

Discussions like the LGBTQ prison fast track, the power of using people’s chosen pronouns, and the reframing of “get to know you” questions allowed for insights into the blind spots many held when it came to LGBTQ people. Covering things like considerate terminology and current statistics allowed attendees to more wholly understand how LGBTQ youth experience the foster care system.

In addition to the CASA Café, CASA for Kids of South Central Texas held other learning opportunities for Pride Month in hopes to further the conversation around LGBTQ issues. Activities included a book club focused on a LGBTQ book, a lunch gathering with a LGBTQ-focused discussion and a webinar training on best practices when it comes to serving LGBTQ youth.

Beyond Pride Month, CASA for Kids of South Central Texas is finding ways to continue their advocacy and education. They plan to restructure their new advocate trainings to include what was learned from the CASA Café. Moreover, the program is purchasing two rainbow window clings to signal to the LGBTQ community, as well as others, that they are a safe place to be yourself!

Through informed advocacy, the CASA network can best support all children in the foster care system. We encourage other CASA programs to consider steps they can take to better support LGBTQ youth and other vulnerable groups. Together, we can continue to grow, educate ourselves, and improve our advocacy for children of all identities and expressions!

To learn more about LGBTQ youth and supporting LGBTQ youth in foster care, check out our most recent CASA Deep Dive.