This comprehensive policy from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is meant to promote the safety and well being of LGBTQ youth in its care. Built upon protections in the Illinois Human Rights Act, the policy sets a minimum standard of care under DCFS, ensuring all youth are treated with respect and dignity and that their emotional and physical safety are prioritized.
The policy calls for a number of programs and procedures to ensure:
• Respect and privacy of gender expression and self-determination;
• Housing and sleeping arrangements consistent with gender identity rather than sex assigned at birth;
• LGBTQ appropriate and culturally competent medical care and sexual health education and resources, including puberty blocking/hormone therapy;
• Mental health care to address chronic stress related to harassment, the need for vigilance to protect against discrimination and abuse, coming out to family and friends, and having one’s sexual orientation discovered; and
• Dissemination of youth’s rights, including how to assert and enforce them.
Citing the critical need for youth to be in a safe, supporting, and affirming environment, the policy also states that in no instance should queer youth be placed with a non-affirming caregiver or a caregiver that is unwilling to support them; that no DCFS staff or caregiver may impose personal beliefs on queer youth, nor may personal belief affect the way individual youth needs are met; and that annual LGBTQ training is mandatory for all care providers.