July 1, 2022
Yesterday, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) released a new LGBTQIA+ nondiscrimination policy effective June 30, 2022.
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, Citizens for Juvenile Justice and the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth issued the following statement praising the release of the policy after years of LGBTQ+ community advocacy:
“We welcome the release of this policy which marks a significant step toward ensuring that LGBTQIA+ youth in the DCF system are better supported, and treated fairly and with dignity.
“The policy establishes several key procedures that are essential to meeting the needs of transgender youth, particularly, including:
- Youth shall be placed consistent with their gender identity
- All DCF personnel, foster families and anyone else who interacts with youth and families in the system shall consistently use the names and pronouns an individual uses to describe themselves
- DCF will support youth in establishing legal name and gender marker changes
- DCF personnel will advocate for LGBTQ+ youth in schools
- DCF will provide affirming placements for LGBTQ+ youth
“LGBTQIA+ and particularly Black, Brown and transgender youth, often experience devastating outcomes when involved with the child welfare system. A strong, comprehensive LGBTQIA+ policy, combined with consistent training and intersectional data collection, are critical to addressing the biases and structural barriers that LGBTQIA+ youth face in care and moving the dial on structural reforms that are necessary to ensure all youth are supported.
“This policy is an excellent step in that process and we look forward to continuing to work with DCF and state policymakers to make the comprehensive changes needed to improve protections for LGBTQIA+ youth in state care.”
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, Citizens for Juvenile Justice and the MA Commission on LGBTQ Youth, alongside impacted youth and families, service providers and community organizations that make up the MA LGBTQ Child Welfare Alliance, have worked over several years to advocate for structural changes at DCF including a comprehensive LGBTQIA+ non-discrimination policy. Last August, the MA Commission on LGBTQ Youth released an alarming report demonstrating a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ youth in the child welfare system. All of us must commit to comprehensive system reform for DCF-involved youth.