Fulton v. City of Philadelphia: The Diversity of LGBTQ Foster Parents Helps Meet the Diversity of Needs for Kids in Care

Fulton v. City of Philadelphia is a Supreme Court case that could have profound impact on LGBTQ+ families and youth in foster care. Family Equality filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in this case. The brief aims to lift up the experiences of LGBTQ+ foster parents. As the Supreme Court inches closer to a decision in this case, we’re highlighting voices from our brief to show the real-life impact of discrimination. To read the amicus brief we submitted to the Supreme Court, click here.

Amanda and Deena’s Story

“We have six adopted children and have fostered over 50 youth. We have been a safe place for all teens to land.”

The pool of prospective parents for children in foster care is best when it reflects the diversity of children in care and is broad enough to meet their needs.

For some children, LGBTQ+ parents are the best fit. Agencies that turn away LGBTQ+ parents are depriving children in foster care of that option. Sometimes, due to past trauma and abuse, children are best served in non-male or non-female placements. In these cases, LGBTQ+ couples fill that need.

“It was frequently said to us, you are the only option for this LGBTQ child.”

Also, LGBTQ+ parents can provide uniquely supportive homes for the 1 in 3 youth in foster care identifying as LGBTQ+. They have first-hand experience with the challenges they face.

LGBTQ+ youth in care often request placements with LGBTQ+ families, and they don’t get to pick whether the agency they were assigned to will discriminate and turn these families away.

Amanda and Deena have had LGBTQ+ youth come to them because other foster parents have been demeaning, belittling, or unsafe for them because of the sexual orientation or gender identity. When they first started fostering over eight years ago, any young person who self-identified as LGBTQ+ had a “behavioral flag” attached to their file. This made placement more difficult. Amanda and Deena took as many as they could, but as one couple, they couldn’t take everyone.

Yet even with this established need for Amanda and Deena, they have faced hurdles because of their sexual orientation.

“It has been hard to deal with, hard to stay engaged, and often makes a couple feel like giving up. But once we stop . . . we know there is no one to take our place.”

According to a recent report by the Trevor Project, LGBTQ+ youth with foster care involvement have three times greater odds of reporting a suicide attempt in the past year. They also have nearly four times greater odds of being kicked out, abandoned, or running away due to discriminatory treatment.

Turning away LGBTQ+ foster parents means less diversity in placement options for youth in care. It shrinks the pool of affirming homes. For LGBTQ+ youth, affirming homes—like the home Amanda and Deena provide—can truly mean the difference between life and death.

Learn more about Fulton v. City of Philadelphia

#DecisionDay Fulton

#DecisionDay: Fulton

The Supreme Court will issue its opinion in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia this spring. On the day the court issues its opinion, we’re joining NEAT and other partners for a Virtual Rally and Town Hall. The rally will be a chance for us to gather together as a community to react to the decision, support each other and hear from speakers and performances. Then, the Town Hall will feature experts providing analysis of the opinion, how it will affect our lives, and what still needs to be done. RSVP to those events here.