The Importance of Intersectionality: Minority Mental Health and Foster Care

Since 2008, July has been designated Minority Mental Health Month, bringing awareness to the mental health experiences of minority and marginalized communities. HRC is committed to promoting racial and ethnic diversity within the LGBTQ movement and to fighting bias and discrimination in all forms, including many of the unique challenges facing LGBTQ communities of color.

For too long, studies have documented racial disproportionality and disparity in adoption and foster care. We also know that research has shown that LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in the foster care system – many having faced family rejection around their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. When we look at the intersection of those identities –people of color identifying as LGBTQ with experiences in the foster care system–there is urgency in LGBTQ and racial inclusion and competetncy in mental health.

Civil rights advocate Kimberlé W. Crenshaw coined the term “intersectionality” to describe the way systems of power exclude and oppress people with minority and marginalized identities. Far too often this is the experience for people of color who identify as LGBTQ in foster care, who face higher rates of harassment, trauma, and disruptive placements.

HRC’s All Children – All Families project (ACAF) is helping to bring awareness to the importance of intersectional LGBTQ-inclusion in adoption and foster care agencies around the country.  

“I want people to remember the historical transference of trauma and oppression that has impacted the LGBTQ communities and people of color,” Darryn Green, an ACAF expert trainer and former foster youth on what it’s like to be an LGBTQ person of color in foster care. “We need to ensure that there are alternative trauma informed and culturally relevant supports and services that understand why so many queer and trans people self medicate or avoid systems of care. Also, having queer and trans people of color with lived experienced in the field as therapists and peer professionals can go a long way at better healing our youth.”

We also know that affirming foster families can make a world of difference for LGBTQ youth who need and deserve support. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, check out our resource page here and our list of participating agencies.

Find out how HRC is working to promote racial and ethnic diversity in the LGBTQ movement for LGBTQ communities of color here.