Providing Unbiased Services for LGBTQ Youth Project
About the Collaboration
The Providing Unbiased Services for LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) Youth Project is a local collaboration that began in 2004 as a Juvenile Justice Committee focused on researching the state of in- and out-of-home services for LGBTQ youth. This committee was established through the support of the Equity Foundation, a non-profit organization in Portland, Oregon whose mission is to support and ensure equality across all sexual and gender orientations, and the dedication of a defense lawyer in Portland who had recognized the overrepresentation of LGBTQ youth in her clients. A 2008 Juvenile Justice Summit held in Portland brought together over 40 agencies to brainstorm challenges faced in trying to best serve LGBTQ youth. Portland State University’s Regional Research Institute for Human Services was invited to participate in the Summit to provide an academic presence and to support an evaluation of the effort. Summit participants identified a need for basic understanding and training in working with LGBTQ youth and subsequently the Equity Foundation established an advisory committee that represents researchers, lawyers, community advocates, child welfare workers, juvenile justice staff, and homeless youth services providers.
The advisory committee applied for a United Way grant in order to establish the Providing Unbiased Services for LGBTQ Youth Project and develop a model training program to help staff in social service and criminal justice organizations provide unbiased services for LGBTQ youth. Trainings were provided to a subset of Multnomah Child Welfare staff, staff from the Homeless “Continuum” (New Avenues for Youth, Outside In, Janus Youth, NAYA Family Center), and staff from Multnomah County Juvenile Justice. While the collaboration started at the local level within Multnomah County, the hope is that trainings will expand to include service providers across the state and eventually become mandatory for service providers in order to increase their knowledge about LGBTQ youth.