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Illinois tells foster parents that they must be ‘LGBTQ-affirming’ toward at-risk youth

Last month, the Department of Child and Family Services enacted new mandates that require all staff, contractors, and volunteers be “LGBTQ-affirming” toward at-risk youth or be dismissed. (Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Foster parents and social workers who are not “LGBTQ-affirming” better step aside in Illinois because at-risk youth will no longer be “exposed” to conservative perspectives on the issue.

Last month, the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services, which oversees the placement of some of the state’s most vulnerable children, implemented new mandates to promote the “well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning ... children and youth in the department’s care.”

The “enhanced department procedures” were signed by Illinois DCFS Director George Sheldon on May 6. The mandate made clear the agency “will not tolerate exposing LGBTQ children and youth to staff/providers who are not supportive of children and youths’ right to self-determination of sexual/gender identity.”

“The youth in our care have the legal right to be free from verbal, emotional, and physical harassment in their placements, schools, and communities,” Sheldon said at the time. “And the adults involved in their care have a legal and ethical obligation to ensure that they are safe and protected.”

The American Civil Liberties Union offered input on the new policies, which not only impact DCFS staff and volunteers but also foster families, caseworkers, and contractors. Also, any person — or partnering agency — working with children or youth is required to complete “LGBTQ competency” training.

DCFS staff and volunteers must “provide supportive and affirming care regardless of one’s personal attitudes, beliefs, preconceptions and/or judgments, if any, surrounding matters of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression,” the guidelines read.

Staff who do not comply with the DCFS’ “LGBTQ-affirming” policies could be dismissed. Additionally, the directive states the DCFS “will not accept the services of volunteers who fail to abide” by the pro-LGBTQ guidelines.

Each child or youth placed under the DCFS’ care will receive “LGBTQ appropriate and culturally competent medical care and sexual health education and resources.” And the rules mandate caseworkers “immediately” contact the DCFS LGBTQ coordinator “whenever questions or concerns surrounding a child or youth’s sexual orientation or gender identity arises, even if the child does not identify as LGBTQ.”

Perhaps most startling is the fact that should a child experiencing gender dysphoria be interested in pursuing a sex change, parents have no say in whether or not he or she receives puberty blockers or hormone treatments.

As long as two physicians — or one doctor and a counselor “who is culturally competent in transgender health care” — sign off on the treatment, the child can begin transitioning. If the child’s “permanency goal” is to return to his or her parents, then the state will notify them — but their permission is not necessary.

Despite receiving little media coverage, the DCFS’ new radical rules went into effect immediately after Sheldon signed the directive last month.

“LGBTQ youth have the right to be treated equally, to express their gender identity, and to have the choice to be open or private about their sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identity,” he said. “They need to feel free to be who they are.”

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