Faith-based organizations and individuals motivated by their religious commitment have long played an important role in providing charitable and social services. Many individuals are motivated by their religious faith to help LGBTQ youth in foster care. When religious traditions take anti-LGBTIQ positions, they undermine the professional and moral obligation to create a supportive system of care.
The tension between religious belief and the rights and freedoms of children and youth that must be protected creates a choice point. Supporting LGBTIQ young people does not mean adults have to give up their values or beliefs. However; they must develop the ability to hold those beliefs second to the responsibility to provide safe, affirming and supportive care.
After coming out to one of my foster families, I was told I was going to hell and forced to go to church with them. I became very closeted after that and didn’t tell any other foster families I was a lesbian. I was in 22 different homes; many of them were very religious.
–Youth in Care
There are faith-based reasons to prioritize the well-being of children:
- Human dignity must be protected for all people.
- LGBTIQ-inclusion is about safeguarding human dignity and the respect for all human beings, not about countering religious values as wrong.
- Religions are based on compassion, acceptance, peace and love. Their traditions carry a duty to all those who are marginalized.
- Major religions share the belief that we should treat each other as we want to be treated ourselves (the Golden Rule).
- Being LGBTIQ does not impact a person’s ability to be spiritual or religious.
- Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia foster, condone and willfully ignore violence and hate. Major religions condemn violence and hate.
- Religion fosters community. All human beings deserve to be treated as valuable, contributing members of society.
- Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia hurt all us. Anyone who is perceived to be LGBTIQ can be subjected to harassment and victimization.
- Silence about discrimination negatively impacts the lives of LGBTIQ youth. Faithful people stand in solidarity to protect the sacredness of life.
While it is necessary for children and youth to adapt to the routines of their foster families, they also bring with them beliefs and practices that are important to them as individuals. The rights of a child or youth to either practice his/her own religion or to practice no religion at all is stipulated in the Child and Family Services Act.
MCYS: A Diversity Toolkit for Residential Care Settings