Equality groups clash with US health department on LGBTQ youth data
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Trump administration is not going to collect LGBTQ youth data and LGBT equality groups are up in arms about it.
This is because the HHS’s proposed rule change would affect foster care and adoptive parents and guardians in the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS).
LGBTQ youth data and the HHS
Presently, data from AFCARS provides states, the Children’s Bureau, and foster care and adoption providers with information on safety and security of children in need of homes and families who will care for them.
The Children’s Bureau under the Administration for Children and Families of the HHS was supposed to publish the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would disallow collecting data on LGBT children in the Federal Register.
These questions would seek to identify the sexual orientation of youth in foster care, which the Trump administration has said to be “intrusive and worrisome.”
Presently, federally-funded child welfare agencies need to submit data from the AFCARS twice a year based on two 6-month reporting periods.
Presently, LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in foster care, and many LGBTQ parents are afraid of discrimination to reach out to foster and adoption agencies.
Equality groups and the LGBT youth
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the country’s largest LGBT advocacy group, said this is is the latest attempt by Trump administration to undermine the rights and welfare of LGBT people.
“The Trump-Pence administration’s latest assault on the LGBTQ community threatens to harm some of the most vulnerable youth in the foster care system,” said David Stacy, Director of HRC Government Affairs.
Ellen Kahn, the director of the HRC Foundation’s Children, Youth, and Families Program, said the “intrusive” reason doesn’t count as the collected information is always “highly personal, private, confidential.”
Meanwhile, Julie Kruse, director of federal policy at the pro-LGBT Family Equality Council, said: “States, tribes and agencies cannot improve care and outcomes for youth if they do not have data to measure their efforts.”
The Family Equality Council was backed by 48 pro-LGBT groups like Athlete Ally, GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, Lambda Legal, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
Crunching LGBT youth data
From data collected by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, 12.9 percent of LGBTQ youth report being treated poorly by the foster care system compared to 5.8% of non-LGBTQ youth.
A recent study noted that 70 percent of LGBTQ people are concerned or unsure about their ability to find an agency that would welcome them as an LGBTQ applicant.
Moreover, 78 percent fear that they would be turned away because of their LGBTQ identity while 56 percent are worried that the staff of the agency wouldn’t be LGBTQ-competent.
In 2016, the HHS under the Obama administration ruled that data collection requirements should be expanded for children in foster care, which included sexual orientation.
However, the Children’s Bureau said that 36 states expressed concerns about this ruling.