June is PRIDE month. This is relevant to our work with the foster care population because, according to the Human Rights Campaign, 1 out of every 3 youth in foster care identifies as LGBTQIA+.  While they enter the foster care system for the same reasons as non LGBTQIA+ youth, such as abuse, neglect and parental substance abuse. Many LGBTQIA+ youth have the added layer of trauma that comes with being rejected or mistreated because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Advocates are encouraged to be sensitive to this population’s unique needs and to provide subtle signals that make it clear we are allies and can be trusted. For example, the LGBTQIA+ pins we give all our Advocates are a sign of acceptance.

If you want a pin, please just reach out to Lauren via email in the office at lauren@bergencasa.org.

Additionally, we continue to look for and share with you valuable resources.

For example:

Garden State Equality, https://www.gardenstateequality.org/
Garden State Equality lifts up the diverse voices of LGBTQIA+ communities through education and advocacy to advance the movement for equality in New Jersey and nationally. We work tirelessly to ensure the communities we serve experience lived equality. Garden State Equality is the largest LGBTQIA+ advocacy organization in New Jersey, with over 150,000 members. Services include advocacy, policy work, and training. We work to address safe environments for youth, improvement of health services that meet LGBTQIA+ community needs, and respectful treatment of seniors. Beyond that, Garden State Equality supports New Jersey’s activist community by bringing an LGBTQIA+ lens to the shared struggle for justice.

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) https://www.pflagnj.org/ 
The PFLAG mission is to build on a foundation of loving families united with LGBTQIA+ people and allies who support one another, and to educate ourselves and our communities to speak up as advocates until all hearts and minds respect, value and affirm LGBTQIA+ people.

Rutgers Center for Transgender Health (RCTH)
The Rutgers Center for Transgender Health is a multidisciplinary center that provides a full spectrum of medical and surgical care for people of the transgender and gender non-binary (TGNB) experience. The team of expert health professionals offer a compassionate, coordinated approach to gender affirmation.

Rainbow Cafe NNJ  https://www.rainbowcafennj.org/about started in 2009 as a partnership between the Cresskill Congregational Church, United Church of Christ and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) of Bergen County.  Since then, we have grown to roughly 50-75 teenagers who regularly attend our events from towns and boroughs all across Bergen County, New Jersey. The youth group is not a religious one and is open to all faiths or no faiths. We believe in providing a safe space for LGBTQ teens without fear of judgment, bigotry, or shame. Rainbow Cafe of Northern New Jersey is a support and social group for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual (LGBTQQIA) youth in grades 6-12. Our monthly chaperoned events include dances with a live DJ and pizza and our lounges have open mic, karaoke, games, art and snacks!