LGBTQ+ Youth: How to support your foster child exploring their gender identity or sexuality
As a foster carer, you’ll want to provide the best possible support to your foster child as they develop and grow, and their sexuality or gender identity may be something they struggle with. To celebrate pride month, we’ve put together 5 ways you can support your foster child as they explore their own identity!
Keep an open dialogue
Encouraging open, honest discussions with your foster child is always recommended, but it’s especially vital when they’re feeling confused about their gender identity or sexuality. Being receptive and engaged about their feelings allows them to talk freely about any emotions they may be dealing with, and you’ll be able to support them in a positive and helpful way.
Don’t assume it’s ‘just a phase’
Just because someone is young, it doesn’t mean they aren’t sure of their identity. If your foster child says they identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, believe them! It takes a lot of courage for someone to come out, so being dismissive or blasé of their feelings is detrimental to their personal development. Instead, be there for them as they learn who they are, and support them however you can.
Let them know they’re loved and cared for
Many foster children have already felt abandonment and rejection throughout their childhood, so it’s only natural for them to fear being rejected by their foster parents, too. If your foster child reveals anything about their sexuality, it means they trust you! Be thankful they’re being so honest with you, and remind them how cared for they are. Reassuring your foster child they’re supported and loved will provide invaluable comfort as they learn to embrace their true selves.
Help build their confidence
After your foster child has come out as LGBTQ+, or if they’ve talked about being confused about their sexuality or identity, they may feel vulnerable and scared. As a foster carer, it’s your job to help rebuild their confidence! Whether it’s by finding a local LGBTQ+ youth group, buying books with relatable characters, or simply letting them dress how they want, you can give them the confidence boost they’ll need!
Look out for signs of bullying
Unfortunately, LGBTQ+ youth are often subject to bullying; both in school and online. Children may be excluded from friendship groups, or feel like their sexuality or gender identity is being used as a bullying ‘tool’ by their peers. Skipping school, withdrawing from social activities and acting out are clear signs your foster child is experiencing some sort of emotional distress, which may be due to bullying. Keep a close eye on their mannerisms, and note any unusual behaviour on your daily log!
These are a just a few ways you can support your LGBTQ+ foster child, but we’d love to hear your suggestions! If you have concerns about your foster child’s wellbeing, please get in touch with your Supervising Social Worker immediately so we can help as quickly as possible. Existing foster carers can also access FREE training courses, such as ‘LGBTQIA+ fostering’, on the Training Hub.
To join our team of inclusive, wonderful foster parents, just apply here!