In Honor of Pride Month

In Honor of Pride Month

In Honor of Pride Month Hero Image
Written by Ellen Franks, C.A.S.E. Quality Assurance Specialist
Published on: Jun 04, 2024
Category LGBTQIA+

In June 1999, U.S. President Bill Clinton declared June to be LGBT Pride Month, in recognition of the anniversary on the Stonewall uprising for gay rights that took place in New York in June 1969.The month of June is now known as LGBTQ+ Pride Month and is dedicated to celebration and commemoration of LGBTQ+ pride.

C.A.S.E. is committed to commemorating and celebrating LGBTQ+ pride. This month and throughout the year, C.A.S.E. endeavors to include, welcome, and respect the LGBTQ+ community among our staff and the clients and families we serve.C.A.S.E. recognizes that LGBTQ+ youth are significantly overrepresented among youth who experience the child welfare system.

We are aware that children and youth in foster, adoptive and kinship families are already faced with stressors related to their intersecting identities, to include: living apart from their biological parents and family, lacking physical resemblance to their adoptive parents and  family, having few or no children in their schools or neighborhoods who share their racial identity, and perhaps facing ongoing, unwanted questions from extended family, friends and strangers around these ever-present issues.

For many youth, adding to this emotionally challenging list are additional intersecting identity challenges related to their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. In its mental health counseling, case management services and training of mental health, child welfare and school-based professionals, C.A.S.E. has the unique expertise to assist children, youth, and families in addressing these issues.

In 2023, C.A.S.E. achieved certification as a welcoming provider of child welfare-related services to the LGBTQ+ community through the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s All Children – All Families program.Achieving the Solid Foundation for Inclusion, C.A.S.E. has expanded its welcome to the LGBTQ+ community in the following ways: broadened its non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation, gender identity and expression; revised agency forms to include gender-neutral language; utilized correct pronouns and preferred names when addressing clients, family members and staff; listed staff pronouns outside staff offices and in staff email and Zoom addresses; placed welcoming signage throughout C.A.S.E. office spaces; provided ongoing learning opportunities for staff, Board of Directors, and Emerging Leaders on the diverse experiences within the LGBTQ+ community, included LGBTQ+ welcoming language, graphics, policies and relevant resources on the C.A.S.E. website, specialized support groups, and educational forums.

In year two of certification, C.A.S.E. is expanding its efforts further and hopes to achieve the All Children – All Families Innovative Tier of Inclusion. C.A.S.E. has developed a policy on gender-affirming care and a policy to show that we never have and will never use conversion therapy as a treatment modality. C.A.S.E. is expanding partnerships and training opportunities with LGBTQ+ serving entities nationally to ensure that children, youth and families, wherever they are located, are able to receive adoption-competent counseling and case management services that address their mental health needs related to living in adoptive, foster, kinship or guardianship families in addition to a myriad of other intersecting identities.

As we proceed on this important path in our work, we continuously ask ourselves if our efforts are making a difference in the lives of the people we serve and our staff. C.A.S.E. Policy Advocacy Fellow, Ashley Garcia-Rivera, responded to this question with a resounding, “Yes!” Here are Ashley’s thoughts:

“C.A.S.E.’s commitment to an inclusivity environment has had a profound impact on me personally and professionally. The non-discrimination policies and gender-neutral language are not just administrative changes; they represent a fundamental respect for our identities and experiences. For instance, seeing my correct pronouns and preferred name acknowledged consistently has been incredibly affirming. It sends a strong message that C.A.S.E. values each individual’s identity.

One of the most meaningful aspects has been the welcoming environment created by visible signs of support, such as the welcoming signage and the inclusion of pronouns on office name plates and email addresses. These efforts make the work environment feel like a safe and inclusive space for both staff and clients. Having visible signs has truly created a sense of belonging that made a significant difference to my comfort level and willingness to engage with my colleagues. 

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Additionally, the training provided to all staff and board members on LGBTQ+ issues has been crucial. It has fostered a culture of understanding, inclusivity empathy, advanced knowledge and skills enabling us to serve our clients more effectively and respectfully. Personally, these training sessions have not only given me valuable insights and strategies to better navigate and support the diverse needs of our clients but have also increased my own comfort level at work. Knowing that my colleagues are educated and empathetic about LGBTQ+ issues makes me feel more accepted and supported in my role. This sense of acceptance has made it easier for me to bring my whole self to work, which in turn allows me to be more effective and present.

C.A.S.E.’s efforts have not only enhanced our work environment but have also deepened my connection to the organization. Knowing that I work for a place that actively supports and respects LGBTQ+ identities makes me proud to be part of this team. It reassures me that C.A.S.E. is genuinely committed to making a positive impact on the lives of LGBTQ+ children, youth, and families.”

Ashley’s powerful words remind us that we are on the right track and provide us with the impetus to continue to follow C.A.S.E.’s mission, vision, values, and commitment to equity in our work. We are proud to support Pride Month and will continue to champion equality and support our LGBTQ+ colleagues and our C.A.S.E community.

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