Yet more news regarding teenagers in Texas. This time, definitely more positive. A new counseling center in Texas is hoping to save say teens from street life by recruiting gay or gay-friendly foster families for gay teens. What caught my eye besides the headline was that the article featured two pictures of a black lesbian teen, Elana Arthur, who’s one of the youth that the counseling center is trying to help.
“My mom kicked me out when I was 14 because I was a lesbian.”
Her black hair is cropped short, her eyes serious. Across the street is her latest home: the Covenant House, a Montrose-area youth shelter.
… Blocks from where she stands, smoking on the street corner, a Houston gay advocacy organization has drafted a plan to save youths like Arthur — or like Arthur seven years ago — from the streets.
The idea — to recruit gay and gay-friendly parents to the foster care system — comes amid debates about caregiving by gays and lesbians. At least one state, Florida, outlaws adoption by this segment of the population, and others, including Texas, recently debated stopping them from serving as foster parents.
… Last November, the Montrose Counseling Center, a stronghold in the center of the city’s gay community, sent out a call for gay-friendly foster parents.
The not-for-profit got at least 12 volunteers, five of whom have registered with a private foster care agency working with the center. That agency will train the parents and help pair foster care kids with them, although none have been placed yet.
Unlike other, similar efforts in the nation, this gay-friendly recruitment is coming from outside the state’s child protective agency.
Ann Robison, executive director of the counseling center, said the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is aware of her organization’s effort, but both sides need a face-to-face meeting to work out logistics. The agency oversees foster care for the state, but it outsources some parent training and recruitment to private organizations.
As much as it inspires hope to hear about something like the Montrose center, I can’t help but remind myself that it is in Texas and it wouldn’t surprise me if Texas’ right wingers oppose it and try to put an end to it if word gets out. Sure enough, a bit further down in the article, there’s a suggestion that just might be in the cards.
Kelly Shackelford, founder of a political action committee supporting Texas’ gay marriage ban, said he doesn’t oppose gay foster parents, but he doesn’t support them, either. Even if foster care children are openly gay, Shackelford said, the state should look for straight married parents first.
“If you are talking about children that the state has had to take custody of, why would you put another burden in their life?” said Shackelford, also president of Free Market Foundation, a conservative Texas organization associated with the Christian-based Focus on the Family.
You gotta remember this is the same state where groups like the Texas Eagle Forum spout Paul Cameron’s pseudo statistic that children in homes with same-sex parents are more likely to be molested. And they get away with it unchallenged in the national media, so they probably peddle it pretty successfully in Texas too. You better believe if it comes to the point of being an election-winning issue for them, they’ll try to shut this program down.
Of course what Shackelford doesn’t get or doesn’t give a damn about is that placing these kids in foster families that accept their orientation, and may even provide them with positive LGBT role-models is removing a burden from their lives. Initially, their burden was being gay in families that couldn’t accept them and eventually threw them out because of it. Now their burdens are compounded by being homeless. Placing them with families can accept and nurture them might make the difference that propels their off the street and on to better lives as LGBT adults.
My guess is that Shackelford and the rest would much rather see these kids placed with religious conservative heterosexual families who would not accept their orientations. And that’s most likely because they aren’t interested in helping those LGBT youth. I just hope the don’t become interested in stopping those who do want to help these kids.