Serving LGBT2SQ Children and Youth in The Child Welfare System: A Resource Guide


Serving LGBT2SQ Children and Youth in The Child Welfare System: A Resource Guide

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This toolkit was developed by the Ministry of Children & Youth Services.


This resource guide has been developed to help children’s aid societies (societies), residential service providers, and caregivers (e.g., foster, kin, and customary caregivers) better meet the needs of the LGBT2SQ children and youth they serve.

Many different acronyms are used to refer to the diverse communities of people who identify with a sexual orientation and/or gender identity that has been marginalized. In this guide, the acronym LGBT2SQ is used except when an acronym appears in a quote or reference from another source. The acronym LGBT2SQ refers to gender identities and sexual orientations including, but not limited to, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Two-Spirit, queer, and questioning. It is important to remember that terms used to describe gender identities and sexual orientations are always evolving. Other variations of the acronym may be ordered differently (e.g., GLBT, 2SLGBTQ), or include other letters to give visibility to identities (e.g., intersex, asexual) that are not explicitly reflected in shorter acronyms (e.g., LGBT2SQIA).

Whether child protection workers and caregivers are aware of it or not, it is very likely that some of the children and youth they serve identify as LGBT2SQ. While it is estimated that 10% of the general population is LGBT2SQ, studies suggest there is a much higher percentage of LGBT2SQ children and youth in the child welfare system because many LGBT2SQ children and youth face rejection, neglect or abuse when their families learn of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression.

Many LGBT2SQ children and youth also face challenges within the child welfare system. For example:

  • Difficulty finding a trusted person to be open with about their identity (e.g., an ally in whom to confide).
  • Lack of safe, welcoming placement options and permanent homes that affirm, and are inclusive of, LGBT2SQ identities.
  • Hostility, harassment, or violence from their peers in foster and group care settings that may go unchallenged by staff and caregivers.
  • Discipline for, and/or restriction of, age-appropriate behaviours that might be accepted between youth of different sexes and/or genders (e.g., dating).
  • Child protection workers and caregivers who lack awareness and understanding of the needs of LGBT2SQ children and youth and/or the resources available to support them.
  • Challenges developing lasting relationships or accessing appropriate services due to stigma and discrimination.
  • Lack of understanding by child welfare professionals of their roles in supporting families who may be struggling with their LGBT2SQ child or youth’s gender identity, gender expression, and/or sexual orientation.
  • Lack of specific LGBT2SQ inclusion policies and promising practices (e.g., placement related to gender identity, access to gender-affirming health care).
  • Not seeing themselves and other LGBT2SQ identities represented among workers, caregivers, and leaders.

Supportive adults and LGBT2SQ-affirming services can make a positive difference in the lives and longer term outcomes of LGBT2SQ children and youth. Staff, caregivers, and leaders in the child welfare system can play an important role in preventing and addressing these challenges by becoming LGBT2SQ allies.

Learn more and access the complete Resource Guide.

Ministry of Children & Youth Services. (2018). Serving LGBT2SQ Children and Youth in The Child Welfare System: A Resource Guide. Toronto, ON: Government of Ontario. Retrieved from

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