OAKLAND -- As part of LGBT Pride Month, an Oakland agency that works with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning foster youth is promoting a project that helps find them safe and permanent homes.
Family Builders launched the Pride and Joy project, the only program on the West Coast dedicated to finding safe and affirming families for LGBTQ youth, in 2007 and since has placed numerous foster children in permanent homes.
This month, the organization is trying to spotlight the need for homes for some youth by using AC Transit buses and bus kiosks to highlight the various programs they offer and the need for homes for LGBTQ youth.
Family Builders organizers say there are a disproportionate number of LGBTQ youth in foster care. Of the 59.000 youth in foster care in California, it is estimated that anywhere between 25 percent to 40 percent identify as LGBTQ. An exact number is not known because not all youth are public about their sexual orientation.
However, Family Builders organizers says some LGBTQ youth in foster care often experience verbal harassment, physical or sexual abuse because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, segregation in foster care facilities due to the myth that they are "predators,'' years of waiting for a permanent family and sometimes a lack of understanding in foster care facilities.
One study found that 78 percent of LGBTQ youth were removed or ran away, at some point, from their foster placements as a result of hostility toward their sexual orientation or gender identity.
A 37-year-old organization, Family Builders works to eradicate bias on the basis of a child's age, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or medical, physical or emotional condition. Family Builders also has many programs to educate the community about the needs of waiting children, said director of development Colleen Miller.
For more information, go to www.familybuilders.org
Follow Kristin J. Bender at Twitter.com/kjbender.