A bill advancing in the California legislature (AB-1856) would require anyone participating in the state’s foster care system to receive training “instruction on cultural competency and sensitivity relating to, and best practices for, providing adequate care” to LGBT youth. Family rejection is largely responsible for the epidemic of LGBT youth homelessness, and preparing foster parents to accept and support the young people they are charged to protect ensures that those kids don’t lose another home or experience abuse.
Focus on the Family is concerned that the bill will “drive Christian couples away” from becoming foster parents. The organization sought comment from anti-gay author Dale O’Leary, who believes that being gay is just confusion from being sexually abused as a child — and also apparently that all foster kids have been somehow “seriously damaged”:
OLEARY: It’s very scary because children in foster care have already been seriously damaged. You don’t get into foster care because you’ve had a perfect life. A child who’s been sexually abused by a person of the same sex, (particularly if the child is a boy), is going to have doubts about his identity. And he needs help to get through that. If we push homosexuality on him, or these gender-identity ideas, it’s just going to confuse him… One of the outcomes of sexual child abuse is concern about one’s sexual attractions and identity.
The implications here are disturbing. First, Focus on the Family seems to be implying that Christian couples would refuse to ever love a gay or trans child. Secondly, though sexual abuse is certainly a concern in the foster care system, it’s quite dangerous to purport that all foster kids have been damaged by sexual abuse — there’s nothing to support such a generalization. Lastly, O’Leary’s conclusions that abuse leads to homosexuality are based entirely on the junk science of ex-gay therapy. The American Psychiatric Association concludes that “sexual abuse does not appear to be more prevalent in children who grow up to identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, than in children who identify as heterosexual.”
AB 1856 is a bill that can only help minimize stigma by raising awareness about how best to care for LGBT youth. Focus on the Family’s insistence on opposing it and spreading complete mythology shows that the organization cares much more about its harmful message than any real concern for children’s well-being.