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Copyright (c) 2005 Law & Sexuality
Law & Sexuality: A Review of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Legal Issues

NLGLA MICHAEL GREENBERG WRITING COMPETITION: Implications of AB 458 for California LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care


14 Law & Sex. 149


Anne Tamar-Mattis*


I. Introduction
At least five to ten percent of the adolescents in the foster care system are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ). 1 In spite of these significant numbers, the foster care system has done little to protect these young people, often the victims of homophobia or transphobia in their families of origin, from further homophobic or transphobic abuse in the foster care system. 2 LGBTQ youth are harmed by this victimization within the system that is supposed to ensure their safety; 3 the damage sometimes rises to such an intolerable level that young people choose life on the street as a safer alternative to their group or foster home. 4

California took a significant step towards the protection of LGBTQ youth in foster care with the passage of AB 458, the Foster Care Nondiscrimination Act, which went into effect on January 1, 2004. 5 This Paper will explore the implications of AB 458 for LGBTQ youth who are facing homophobic or transphobic discrimination in foster care settings. The first Part will outline the background and content of AB 458. The second will explore existing law that may bear on the emerging definition of sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination as experienced by foster care youth. The third Part will outline some legal and extralegal strategies that youth and their advocates can employ to address some of the most common complaints of LGBTQ youth in the foster care system.

II. Background and Content of ...
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