Published August, 2017

Informational Letter on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression (SOGIE), 16-OCFS-INF-10, New York State Office of Children and Family Services, Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Development (2016)

This informational letter to New York State Commissioners of Social Services and Executive Directors of Voluntary Authorized Agencies—agencies authorized to operate, manage, supervise, or own group homes or other such child care institutions—provides staff with guidance and resources related to SOGIE, with the goal of promoting a safe and respectful environment for all children, youth, and adults. The letter builds on the New York State Bill of Rights for Children and Youth in Foster Care and the Regulations Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment in Child Welfare and Youth Programs. Specific guidelines for promoting a safe and respectful environment include:

• Celebrating and affirming SOGIE differences: programs should encompass all SOGIE categories and be provided for all ages;
• Providing resources and displaying pride: programs should openly display SOGIE-affirming informational materials to signify that staff are knowledgeable and open to communication, and they should make educational materials available, including book lists and lists of community resource supports and advocacy groups; and
• Ensuring staff are trained to serve children, youth, and adults of a wide variety of SOGIEs.