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Ensuring Trans and Gender-Fluid Youth in Foster Care Are Able to Access Gender Affirming Medical and Behavioral Health Care Services

Southern California’s Walden Family Services, a foster family agency and provider of housing and supportive services for older foster youth, supports Assembly Bill 2119 and urges Gov. Brown to sign the bill into law.

This transgender rights legislation, if approved, would provide transgender and gender-fluid youth in foster care access to medical and behavioral health care consistent with their gender identity.

Studies show that rejecting a trans or gender-fluid child or youth’s identity can result in the youth engaging in behaviors that put their health at risk; trigger depression and other mental health problems; and – in the worst of cases – result in homelessness or suicide. Too often, trans and gender-fluid youth in the child welfare system have experienced this sort of rejection, so it is essential that the providers – and families – charged with their care are affirming of the youth’s identity and that any health or behavioral health care (counseling services, substance abuse treatment, etc.) are supportive and appropriate to the needs of the youth.

Transgender and gender fluid youth are overrepresented in California’s foster care system. Child welfare agencies are already required to assess the health and behavioral health needs of all young people in foster care, and to ensure they receive appropriate and timely care to address the needs identified by qualified professionals. AB 2119 will make clear that, to meet this existing obligation for trans and gender-fluid youth, child welfare agencies must ensure access to clinicians who provide gender-affirming treatment, consistent with established standards of care.

Please join Walden Family Services in urging the Governor to approve this bill.

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Marching with Pride

San Diego, CA— As it has for many years, Walden Family Services will march this Saturday, July 14 with the Pride Parade, a joyful celebration to “foster pride, equality, and respect for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities locally, nationally, and globally.”  Teresa Stivers, CEO of Walden Family Services, shares why this is an important focus for the 42-year old foster care, adoption and transitioning youth services agency.

“We want all the children, youth and families in our Walden community to feel embraced and supported. All too often, LGBTQ youth are bullied and some are even rejected by their birth families, which is heartbreaking,” explained Stivers, who leads the agency headquartered in San Diego, with district offices throughout Southern California. “This is why, statistically, LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in foster care and among the homeless.”

All Walden staff and prospective foster and adoptive parents are trained using the Human Rights Campaign’s All Children, All Families resources to ensure that all LGBTQ people that engage with the agency have a positive experience.

“At a time when some states are advancing legislation allowing discrimination against LGBTQ prospective parents, here at Walden we want to reaffirm that we have always welcomed LGBTQ couples as foster and adoptive parents—and we always will,” added Stivers. “After all, love is love and children and youth in foster care fare much better when they are able to live in a loving home.”

The Pride Parade is a free, community event that begins at 11 am Saturday.

Media Contact

Teresa Stivers
(619) 727-5881

Walden in the News