Why Can’t Gay Teenagers Get Into Foster Homes?


The recent flood of gay teen suicides—kids like Billy Lucas, Tyler Clementi, Raymond Chase, and Seth Walsh—is sadly not surprising. LGBT youth are significantly more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, according to the American Public Health Association. The recent explosion of  suicides has inspired a nationwide “It Gets Better” campaign. Launched by Dan Savage, editor of Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger, and joined by a variety of celebrities, it encourages men and women who were bullied as kids to create videos reassuring gay teenagers they are not alone; that you can and will get through this hell—and when you do, your life is going to be way better.

But things are especially tough for kids whose families turn on them. Another recent study, with the wonky title Family Rejection as a Predictor of Negative Health Outcomes, concluded that adolescents rejected by their families over sexual identity were more than eight times as likely to report having attempted suicide. With these cases, the rejected teen may have nowhere to turn. In “Queer and Loathing,” MoJo contributor Jason Cherkis documents what happens to gay teens caught up in the child-welfare system, telling the story through a young man named Kenneth Jones who struggles to navigate foster care in the District of Columbia. The majority of foster families, Cherkis reports, simply refuse to welcome gay kids into their homes, and when they do, these teens are often subjected to verbal harassment and violence.

While the crisis facing gay youth has not gone unnoticed, we’re still a long way away from ensuring that LGBT kids are treated with the same dignity, love, and respect as their straight counterparts. Here’s hoping that this, too, will get better.

Read: Queer and Loathing: Does the Foster Care System Bully Gay Kids?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.