Tag: Illinois and Massachusetts

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National

States fight discrimination toward gay foster kids

Kamora Herrington, mentoring program director of True Colors talks to kids during a breaking the silence gathering at True Colors in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill) by Kelli Kennedy MIAMI (AP) — Sixto Cancel says his ultra-religious foster family frequently talked about their disdain for his homosexuality at the dinner table, trashed his room and called him homophobic slurs. While he was still a teenager, he says, they kicked him out of their Connecticut home after he had lived there for nearly a decade. “I’ve had foster homes who completely said you can’t live here if you’re gay,” said Cancel, a 21-year-old student at Virginia Commonwealth University who bounced between half a dozen foster homes while in care. “For a long time I had that self-hatred and uncomfortableness with who I am.” Discrimination against gay and lesbian youths in foster care is prevalent enough around the country that federal health officials sent a letter in 2011 encouraging states to develop training for caseworkers and foster parents on the issue. Advocates in a handful of states including Florida, California, Connecticut, Illinois and Massachusetts have increased efforts to train caseworkers, recruit foster parents and assign mentors. Officials don’t want to force youths to disclose their sexuality, but must try to create environments where they feel safe to come out when ready. Without such support, the federal government memo says, gay and lesbian youths who leave the foster care system can wind up homeless.