WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — Young people who are LGBTQ can have a difficult time, even at home.
Statistics show LGBTQ youth are almost four times more likely to be sexually abused by a parent or guardian than their heterosexual peers. Senate Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) introduced legislation he thinks will better protect LGBTQ children and teens.
The “Protecting LGBTQ Youth Act” would amend the Child Abuse Prevention & Treatment Act to direct the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct research to better understand and identify child abuse and neglect of LGBTQ kids.
“Bullying, abuse at home by parents or guardians. LGBTQ youth are significantly more likely to experience these tough behaviors” said Senator Kaine.
Sen. Kaine said at-risk kids need better protection and his proposed legislation focuses on their need for help. It includes improved training for social workers and other child welfare professionals.
Ellen Kahn, the Director of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Children, Youth and Families program said some agencies are just not equipped to handle the unique challenges LGBTQ kids face.
“We’ve heard from young people who were bullied in their group housing. We’ve heard from folks who had foster parents who rejected them” said Kahn.
The legislation would also support state task forces that include people with experience working with LGBTQ youth. In addition, it requires federal agencies to do more research on ways to stop children from being abused.
“Put mechanisms in place to both train and provide resources to those that protect our LGBTQ youth” said Kaine.
Supporters of the bill are also calling for child abuse reports to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Kahn said those factors are often overlooked and tracking them could serve as a wake up call.
“It’s a big knock on the door of child welfare to say ‘hey we are falling short, we need to pay attention'” Kahn said.
Supporters said passing the legislation would raise awareness about the problem and provide more resources for protecting vulnerable kids.