Massachusetts Dept. of Children & Families “weeding out” foster & adoptive parents
who won’t support children’s LGBT identities
By Amy L. Contrada
July 25, 2013 [updated April 29, 2014]
It’s now official policy in Massachusetts: Adults holding traditional values will no longer be allowed to adopt or be foster parents.
On January 9, 2013, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick held a swearing-in ceremony for new and returning members of the Commission on LGBT Youth. It was a celebration of his commitment to supporting and promoting homosexuality and transgenderism in children. His stated goal is "to promote healthy, safe environments for all youth ... and continue to affirm the dignity of every human being" while his administration "has improved LGBT youth access to safe homes.”
The presumption is that homes where parents do not fully support the child’s self-identification and behavior as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender are unsafe.
The Governor’s press release notes the importance of “the partnership between the Administration and the Commission” on LGBT Youth, and lists the Commission's FY14 recommendations which had already been met. First noted is Department of Children and Families’ (DCF) policies to eliminate as would-be adoptive or foster parents anyone holding traditional values on “sexual identity: issues. Already accomplished or in the works by the DCF by early 2013:
Recommendation: Improve access to safe homes by identifying LGBT-friendly foster placements, hotline homes, and residential facilities.
* Identification and tracking of safe homes requires that family resource workers raise the question as part of the home study process for new foster families, and as part of the re-licensing process for continuing foster families. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) is working to update the foster parent home study form to ask families whether they would be affirming placements for LGBTQ youth.
* The Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) has established a working group to map the resources currently available to LGBTQ youth in the Commonwealth including, but not limited to, safe homes and residential facilities. …
Recommendation: Provide training programs for all workers and supervisors on the issues that affect LGBT youth and adults.
* DCF has approved a revised training module for new foster parents and adoptive parents on caring for LGBTQ youth. One change includes the removal of references to “gender identity disorder” from participant and trainer guides due to changes in practice guidelines within the psychiatric establishment. [That is, transgenderism is no longer a “disorder” but a perfectly normal “identity” that requires support.] The Department is partnering with community initiatives … to provide continued training opportunities to current foster and adoptive parents in an effort to identify appropriate placements for LGBTQ youth and increase foster and adoptive parents’ ability to properly care and support LGBTQ youth.
* DCF is implementing a new training module for new DCF supervisors and social workers on working with LGBTQ youth and adults.
At 2011 Boston Gay Pride.
Once the Governor had made these announcements, it was safe for the DCF to be more public about its efforts to eliminate adoptive and foster parents with traditional values.
A few months later, on May 15, 2013, the Boston Bar Association held a forum with staff from the Department of Children and Families and members of the Commission on LGBT Youth. The DCF speakers confirmed that they are “weeding out” adoptive and foster parents who are not willing to wholly accept and support LGBT self-identification by a child in their care.
The general topic of the evening was the growing number of LGBT youth needing foster care. The hour-long event can be seen on YouTube.
(Video credit: CatchoftheDay Video News.)
The shocking admission of the DCF’s discriminatory policies towards parents holding traditional values comes in the last few minutes of the video.
Summary of major points at the forum
Erika Rickard, Vice Chair of the Mass. Commission on LGBT Youth and herself a foster parent, called attention to the urgent need for “supportive” foster parents for LGBT youth (who, she estimates, make up about 20% of youth in foster care in the state). The Commission is working in conjunction with the Mass. Department of Children and Families (DCF) to find them “safe, welcoming, and affirming homes.”
Pointing to their high levels of rejection by their families, DCF wants to be sure these youth are placed with adults who completely accept the child’s self-identification as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. They have found that many adults who say they’re OK with sexual orientation and gender identity issues before the child is in their home then change and don’t give “proper support.”
Every social worker in the Massachusetts DCF system now has LGBT issues training (first reported by my MassResistance blog in 2005). The DCF also now runs a mentoring program for foster and adoptive parents. The 8-hour course includes discussion of sexual orientation, gender identity, and trauma understanding. One DCF staffer, Jody, hopes to have the True Colors Out Youth Theater group (part of the Theater Offensive) perform at every regional office as part of staff training. She recommends that the group PFLAG (Parents Families Friends & Allies of LGBT People) speak to all foster parents on how they can show their acceptance and support.
Jody recruits foster parents. She emphasized that the foster parent has to be able to support whatever develops with the child, for example, if he comes out as gay, or learning disabilities become obvious.
The question was asked, “Can transgender people be foster parents?” The answer: “We [at DCF] are not considering your sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s about your fitness.” You can’t have a criminal background; you must be able and willing and have the means to support a child. “Gender identity is not at all a factor.” Rickard (co-chair of the Commission on LGBT Youth) repeated that foster parents need to be ready to accept whatever may come with the adolescent. The DCF staffer said that the non-discrimination policies within the DCF apply to foster families as well as staff.
The youth panelist said there’s a need for foster parents who don’t question the rightness of being gay. Just “passive acceptance” is not enough. One attendee asked if there is a difference between abusive homes, non-supportive parents, or parents who just ignore the LGBT issues presented by the child. The DCF staffers Michelle and Jody explained (in the last few minutes of the video):
Foster parents who may hold more traditional values and who “age out” of the system makes this change to supportive homes easier. “It gives us an opportunity to train folks in a different way of thinking and being more accepting.” (Ten hours a year of LGBT-sensitive training is required of foster parents.) The DCF is “setting new expectations; we are weeding out some of the … destructive behaviors that are occurring” in the foster homes. Sometimes these are very “subtle” but “a case has to be built.” Further, “now that the climate is changing,” DCF wants the youth to understand that the DCF will not accept this kind of behavior from a provider or caretaker. LGBT-ally liaisons in each foster care office can fill in gaps if some social workers are not doing their job adequately to ensure this policy. This “re-education” of staff and foster parents is ongoing.
Mass. Dept. of Social Services (now DCF)
"Parents of the Year" in 2006
History of radicalization of DCF/DSS adoption & foster care policy
We have documented in past years how the DCF (formerly the Department of Social Services, DSS) was moving in this radical direction. In 1994, the Office of Child Care Services (overseeing adoption) issued a regulation (though not law) that a placement agency must “not discriminate in providing services to children and their families on basis of … sexual orientation.” Lesbians and homosexual men have been allowed to adopt ever since. As long ago as 2000, the DSS urged parents to accept homosexuality or bisexuality in their children, asking: “If the adolescent has identified a sexual orientation of gay, lesbian, or bi-sexual, has he/she disclosed this information to a parental figure or trusting adult? If so, has the adolescent received an appropriate, receptive and supportive response?”
The MassResistance blog reported on “LGBT youth issues” training given to about 1,800 Mass. DSS employees in 2004, including those working in adoption and foster care. The radical National Gay & Lesbian Task Force led the training sessions (funded in part by the leftist Tides Foundation). Also at this time, the DSS set up a group home specifically for “out-of-home youth” identifying as “transgender” in Waltham, MA.
State Reps. Brian Walsh & Liz Malia with girl dressing
as boy at Waltham House for transgender youth in 2004.
[Photo: Home for Little Wanderers, Fall 2004 newsletter]
In 2006, the Home for Little Wanderers, which works closely with the DCF (then the DSS), told the Boston Globe, “We have successfully placed children with gay and lesbian families for over a decade.” By 2007, a Boston homosexual newspaper reported:
GLBT families stand as good a chance of being parents to any of the 600 children in the state waiting to be adopted from foster care as traditional families. … a social worker with the Home for Little Wanderers, says about 40 percent of her foster care cases in the public sector ending with adoption are into GLBT families. Her organization has done specific outreach to the GLBT community to recruit new homes for children in the Massachusetts public system. …”We want to make sure that all families have the same opportunities.”
In 2008, we documented recruitment of transgender adults as foster parents at the Northampton Transgender Pride event. Here is the flyer handed out there by the DCF:
In 2010-2011, the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) reported “18% of adoptable youth in foster care [were] placed with same-sex couples.” (See also here.) MARE (which works closely with the DCF) continues its outreach to LGBT adults today. Note its logo, showing two men with a small child:
In 2011 and 2012, the Mass. Department of Children and Families had a booth and marched at Massachusetts Youth Pride. (See MassResistance 2011 video at 10 mins. 15 secs. See MR's 2012 video at 1 min. 15 secs.) Why? Were they encouraging LGBT youth to leave their families and enter LGBT-supportive foster homes?
MASSACHUSETTS POLICY: No more placements with parents holding traditional values
So now the radical evolution of the Mass. Department of Children and Families adoption and foster care department (and adoption agencies it works with) is complete. LGBT adults – singles or couples – have a hugely disproportionate chance of receiving an adoptive or foster care placement.
Even more discriminatory (as the May 2013 video confirms), you need not bother applying to be an adoptive or foster parent in Massachusetts if you hold traditional values – and would wish to dissuade your child from “identifying” and behaving as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Such attitudes are now considered “destructive behaviors” by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. You won’t even get past the screening process. Only those “straight” adults who are LGBT “allies” will make it.
[Source: Corey Yarbrough, Hispanic Black Gay Coalition. Story here.]