of conduct and standards,6 as well as antidiscrimination laws7 and the obligations imposed by
child welfare laws to ensure safety and permanency.8 Unfortunately, many professionals do not
meet this obligation.9 For example, in one case an LGBTQ youth in group care stated, “I got
jumped by a bunch of guys in my group home, and when I told the Director, he said, ‘Well, if
you weren’t a faggot, they wouldn’t beat you up.’”10 This should never happen. Youth who are
LGBTQ are entitled to the same physical and emotional safety as other youth especially when
they are in state care.
That said, advocates and policy-makers must not limit their attention to issues and needs
primarily associated with sexual orientation and gender identity. LGBTQ children cannot be
reduced to their LGBTQ identity,11 and their LGBTQ identity should not be reduced to their sex
acts.12 LGBTQ children “are not a monolith”13 and “the diversity of society in general is
represented within LGBTQ communities.”14 Not all LGBTQ children and youth experience or
respond to heterosexist society in the same way.15 LGBTQ children and youth have different
degrees of resilience16 and do not necessarily “have similar life experiences or share a common
sense of community.”17 In fact, a majority of LGBTQ children and youth do not have negative
life outcomes.18 For example, while LGBTQ children and youth have a higher suicide rate than
their non-LGBTQ peers, the vast majority do not commit suicide.19
6 CHILD WELFARE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, supra note 2, at 4–5; GETTING DOWN TO BASICS, supra note 1, at 31–34;
Mayes, supra note 2, at 674.
7 See, e.g., Mayes, supra note 2 (discussing various federal antidiscrimination statutes that address same-sex
harassment in schools and the workplace).
8 See, e.g., Frank E. Vandervort, Federal Child Welfare Legislation, in CHILD WELFARE LAW AND PRACTICE:
REPRESENTING CHILDREN, PARENTS, AND STATE AGENCIES IN ABUSE, NEGLECT, AND DEPENDENCY CASES 199,
201–03 (Donald N. Duquette & Ann M. Haralambie eds., 2d ed. 2010) (discussing federal child welfare legislation).
9 See, e.g., Elvia R. Arriola, The Penalties for Puppy Love: Institutionalized Violence Against Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual, and Transgendered Youth, 1 J. GENDER RACE & JUST. 429, 451–52 (1994) (describing “the neglect of
public authority figures”); Dyson, supra note 2, at 188–89 (discussing inaction by educators); Hirschfeld, supra note
2, at 612–13 (discussing inaction by educators); Mayes, supra note 2, at 657, 660–63 (discussing inaction by
10 GETTING DOWN TO BASICS, supra note 1, at 14.
11 See, e.g., Duquette & Haralambie, supra note 4, at 637 (“The youth’s sexual orientation does not define him or
her as a person or frame the needs the child may have in the foster care system. Other areas of the child’s life may
take priority.”). For a discussion of essentialism, gender and sexual orientation, see generally Patricia A. Cain,
Lesbian Perspective, Lesbian Experience, and the Risk of Essentialism, 2 VA. J. SOC. POL’Y & L. 43 (1994)
(discussing essentialism, gender, and sexual orientation). See also Angela P. Harris, Race and Essentialism in
Feminist Legal Theory, 42 STAN. L. REV. 581 (1990); Adrien Katherine Wing, Brief Reflections Toward a
Multiplicative Theory and Praxis of Being, 6 BERKELEY WOMEN’S L. J. 181 (1991) (broad discussion of the hazards
12 Mayes, supra note 2, at 669–70.
13 Id. at 667.
14 GETTING DOWN TO BASICS, supra note 1, at 9.
15 Mayes, supra note 2, at 658 (noting that not all LGBTQ students have negative outcomes). See also Thomas A.
Mayes, Separate Public High Schools for Sexual Minority Students and the Limits of the Brown Analogy, 35 J.L. &
EDUC. 339, 342 & n.16 (2006) (noting other outcomes for LGBTQ students).
18 Brian Mustanski et al., Mental Health of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youths: A Developmental Resiliency
Perspective, 23 J. GAY & LESBIAN SOC. SERVS. 204 (2011). See, e.g., GETTING DOWN TO BASICS, supra note 1, at