Authored by Maria Drummond, Youth Services Rec Therapist
Salt Lake County Youth Services strives to provide an affirmative experience for the youth and families that access our services, regardless of race, economic status, religion, documentation status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
As we wrap up June, which is National Pride Month, we’d like to take a moment to highlight the specific efforts we have made to support the LGBTQ youth and families we serve. About 5 years ago, the LGBTQ Advocates committee was created by some staff at Youth Services for the purpose of increasing Youth Services’ accessibility to LGBTQ youth and families.
Over the last 5 years, Youth Services has been providing LGBTQ Cultural Competency trainings to our staff, and have hosted influential members of the LGBTQ Community at our annual Staff Training Retreats to speak on the subject for 3 years running now.
We’ve transformed our gendered bathroom stalls for public use into single user, gender neutral bathrooms, and also have single user, gender neutral bathrooms available throughout the campus for use by staff and in our residential spaces for use by the kids and teens in emergency shelter with us.
If you were to walk through our campus, you’d find rainbow flag banners and affirmative posters advising youth that they are not alone, and providing information about where to access support in time of crisis.
We have been participating in Utah Pride Center’s annual Pride Festival and/or parade for about 5 years as well, which is always a fun time and a great opportunity to reach out to the broader community to show our support.
Just over a year ago, our director signed a new operating procedure into place called: LGBTQI/GNC Youth. This operating procedure was approved by The Division of Child and Family Services, Office of Licensing, and the District Attorney’s office. It states, among other things, that “Staff may assign a client to a facility or a [bed] room consistent with the client’s stated gender identity.” This policy brings us into compliance with the Child Welfare League of America’s Best Practice Guidelines for Serving LGBT Youth in Out-Of-Home Care. (Wilber, Shannon, Ryan, Caitlin, and Marksamer, Jody. CWLA Best Practice Guidelines: Serving LGBT Youth in Out-Of-Home Care. Child Welfare League of America. 2006).
Here at Youth Services, we are proud to be able to offer affirmative care to LGBTQ youth and families. If you or someone you know needs some extra support as they move through a coming out process, or have experienced housing instability as a result of coming out, contact Youth Services at 385-468-4500 for immediate safety, shelter and support.