all children and parents, that information is gathered regardless of stereotype or whether the child
“appears” to be LGBTQ. This avoids the notion that this question is only asked because the child
is, or is thought to be, LGBTQ. Asking this question declares that LGBTQ children are entitled
to be as safe as their non-LGBTQ peers. It demonstrates that #LGBTQlivesmatter. While
experience and data may ultimately show otherwise, by making this a universal focus of routine
screening, child welfare agencies and others may gather useful information about safety with
relatively low risk to the safety of LGBTQ children and youth. To the extent that this is not
currently being done, this may be a reflection of a lack of awareness rather than a lack of need.
There are other ways of improving safety. A child’s attorney promotes the safety of
children when the attorney conveys that her office is a safe space for LGBTQ children and youth,
such as by displaying literature and providing information about LGBTQ issues and resources.
This is beneficial to all children, including LGBTQ children who are not out or whose sexual
orientation or gender identity is still being formed or discovered. The safety of an LGBTQ child
is also improved when a parent who holds heterosexist beliefs or takes heterosexist actions
receives support on safe and supportive parenting.
C. Removal, Placement, Reunification, and Permanence
Similar considerations apply to the related decision about where to place a child who is
138 whether and when to reunify the child with the child’s family,
139 and whether to
pursue other permanency arrangements.
140 Once an LGBTQ child has been removed from the
child’s home, placing the child in an environment that is heterosexist—including returning to the
home the child was removed from if that home is heterosexist141—is likely to further harm the
child. This is so even if the environment would otherwise be a good fit for the child’s other
strengths and needs.
Reunification and permanency must also address the needs of LGBTQ youth, including
how sexual orientation and gender identity intersect with other factors in each youth’s life. If
services toward reunification are not culturally competent and reasonably responsive to all of the
child’s circumstances, including sexual orientation and gender identity and their intersections,
then those services may not constitute the required “reasonable efforts” to prevent removal or to
except in emergent and extreme cases where revealing this information is necessary to protect child safety. See supra
135 It could also be that state or local law or policy precludes discussions of LGBTQ issues by service providers. See
Mayes, supra note 2, at 670– 71. If that is the case, state and local policy surely must yield to overall federal
considerations of child safety. See Lund & Renne, supra note 118.
136 Duquette & Haralamie, supra note 4, at 637.
137 CHILD WELFARE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, supra note 2, at 11; GETTING DOWN TO BASICS, supra note 1, at 7–8.
138 CHILD WELFARE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, supra note 2, at 10; GETTING DOWN TO BASICS, supra note 1, at 10, 27–
139 CHILD WELFARE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, supra note 2, at 10 (discussing the need to address “family rejection” and
“help reunification”); Orecchia, supra note 121, at 71. See generally Lund & Renne, supra note 118, at 312–13
(discussing safety as the sole proper consideration in reunification decisions).
140 Donald N. Duquette, Establishing Legal Permanence for the Child, in CHILD WELFARE LAW AND PRACTICE:
REPRESENTING CHILDREN, PARENTS, AND STATE AGENCIES IN ABUSE, NEGLECT, AND DEPENDENCY CASES 525
(Donald N. Duquette & Ann M. Haralambie eds., 2d ed. 2010).