Every day, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer children and teens are bombarded by images and messages that tell them who they are is not OK.
They're more likely to be bullied at school than straight kids, and then the bullies' messages are too often reinforced by adults at home and in their communities.
For LGBTQ foster kids, the situation can be even worse.
In 2007, the social service workers and child advocates in Price George's County, MD identified a problem. The LGBTQ children they were working with faced unique challenges like bullying and their staff and volunteers weren't equipped with all the information and resources they needed to help.
With the help of the American Bar Association's Opening Doors Project, the Prince George's County LGBTQ Youth Task Force was created to provide training and support for legal and social service professionals on the front lines to ensure that LGBTQ foster youth have the support they deserve and the rights they demand
Foster kids in Prince George's County are benefitting from the Task Force's hard work -- they established a group home Bill of Rights for LGBTQ youth and have published a resouce guide for professionals working with foster kids.
The underlying message of the Task Force's work is one that should ring out in every community -- everyone deserves to be respected for who they are.
You can play a part in guaranteeing that respect by working to support the LGBTQ kids in your community and speaking up against hate and intolerance whenever you see it. If there's a LGBTQ Task Force in your community already, join and offer your help. If there's no existing support, pledge to start one in your town.
Sign our pledge today -- commit to making your community safer for LGBTQ kids and teens.
I pledge to spread this message to my friends, family and neighbors. I'll speak up against hate and intolerance whenever I see it, at school and at work.
I'll provide hope for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and other bullied teens by letting them know that it does get better.
I'll work to make this vision a reality by working with or starting an LGBTQ Youth Task Force in my community.