LGBTQIA2S+ Resource Hub

LGTBQ CollageThe Department of Children and Families (DCF) plays an integral role in ensuring the well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, and other identified LGBTQ+ youth in the state of Wisconsin, particularly those who are involved in or at risk of involvement in the child welfare system via child protective services and youth justice.

National data indicates that LGBTQ+ youth are a large percentage of the out-of-home care population.* LGBTQ+ youth are at a heightened risk for family rejection, victimization, school bullying, sex trafficking, substance abuse, suicidality, hospitalization, and homelessness. These children deserve to receive affirming care and services that are necessary for their safety and well-being.

DCF believes that an important part of improving outcomes for the LGBTQIA2S+ population is ensuring that youth, parents/caregivers, child welfare professionals, agencies, and service providers are connected to appropriate resources.

The following resources provide a foundation for child welfare work with LGBTQIA2S+ children, youth, and family members.

  • Children’s Bureau Memo.
    • This Information Memorandum (IM) offers guidance to title IV-B and IV-E agencies when serving LGBTQI+ children and youth who are involved with the child welfare system
  • DSP Issue Brief on Working with LGBTQ+ Youth and Families in Child Welfare
    • DSP (Division of Safety and Permanence) guidance and support for best practice for child welfare professionals and care providers working with LGBTQ+ children and family members, focused on ensuring safety and well-being, fair and respectful treatment, and affirming practices.

* Cook, M. & Cohen C. (2018). 20 Years of Advocating for LGBTQ Youth in Out-of-Home Care. American Bar Association.

Definitions

To ensure that child welfare professionals and care providers are well versed in terminology they may encounter while working with LGBTQIA2S+ individuals, the following definitions will be used to form a basis for common knowledge. These definitions, primarily taken from the website for The Human Rights Campaign, are meant to be a general overview of terms. Please understand that they are always evolving as we continue to learn. It is also important to have open communication with the youth and families that we serve about the pronouns and terms that work best for them. 

SOGIE: An acronym meaning sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression.

Gender

  • Cisgender: A term used to describe a person whose gender identity aligns with those typically associated with the sex assigned to them at birth. 
  • Gender-Affirming Health Care: Individualized care provided by a medical professional or team of medical professionals that may include any or all of the following services: support services, mental health counseling, gender-affirming hormone therapy, hormone/puberty suppression, and gender affirmation surgery. 
  • Gender dysphoria: Clinically significant distress caused when a person’s assigned birth gender is not the same as the one with which they identify. 
  • Gender-expansive: A person with a wider, more flexible range of gender identity and/or expression than typically associated with the binary gender system. Often used as an umbrella term when referring to young people still exploring the possibilities of their gender expression and/or gender identity. Gender expansive people may identify as being both a man and a woman, somewhere in between, or as falling completely outside these categories. While many also identify as transgender, not all gender expansive people do. Gender expansive can also be used as an umbrella term that encompasses identities such as gender fluid. 
  • Gender expression: External appearance of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, body characteristics or voice, and which may or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine. 
  • Gender-fluid: A person who does not identify with a single fixed gender or has a fluid or unfixed gender identity.
  • Gender identity: One’s innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One’s gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth. 
  • Gender non-conforming: A broad term referring to people who do not behave in a way that conforms to the traditional expectations of their gender, or whose gender expression does not fit neatly into a category. While many also identify as transgender, not all gender non-conforming people do. 
  • Gender transition/Transitioning: A process some transgender people undergo to match their gender identity more closely with their outward appearance to live more fully as their true gender. This can include social transition, such as changing name and pronouns, and changing clothes and other forms of gender expression to fit their gender identity. It may also include gender-affirming healthcare needs, which may include hormone therapy or gender affirming surgeries. Legal transition may include changing legal name and sex on government identity documents. Transgender people may choose to undergo some, all, or none of these processes. 
  • Intersex: Intersex people are born with a variety of differences in their sex traits and reproductive anatomy. There is a wide variety of difference among intersex variations, including differences in genitalia, chromosomes, gonads, internal sex organs, hormone production, hormone response, and/ or secondary sex traits. 
  • Transgender: An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation. Therefore, transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.

Sexual Orientation: An inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to other people. Note: an individual’s sexual orientation is independent of their gender identity.

  • Asexual: Often called “ace” for short, asexual refers to a complete or partial lack of sexual attraction or lack of interest in sexual activity with others. Asexuality exists on a spectrum, and asexual people may experience no, little, or conditional sexual attraction. 
  • Bisexual: A person emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to more than one sex, gender, or gender identity though not necessarily simultaneously, in the same way or to the same degree. Sometimes used interchangeably with pansexual. 
  • Gay: A person who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to members of the same gender. Men, women, and non-binary people may use this term to describe themselves.
  • Lesbian: A woman who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to other women. Women and non-binary people may use this term to describe themselves. LGBTQIA2S+: An acronym used for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, two spirit, plus.
  • Pansexual: Describes someone who has the potential for emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to people of any gender though not necessarily simultaneously, in the same way or to the same degree. Sometimes used interchangeably with bisexual.

Outing: Exposing someone’s lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender, gender expansive, intersex, asexual, or two spirit identity to others without their permission. Outing someone can have serious repercussions on employment, economic stability, personal safety or religious or family situations. 

Plus: This signifies all of the gender identities and sexual orientations that are not specifically covered

Pronouns: This is a word used to describe another person. Examples include he, she, they, ze, etc. Some pronouns are considered feminine (she/her), some are masculine (he/him), and others are gender neutral (they, ze). 

Queer: A term people often use to express a spectrum of identities and orientations that are counter to the mainstream. Queer is often used as a catch-all to include many people, including those who do not identify as exclusively straight and/or folks who have non-binary or gender expansive identities. This term was previously used as a slur, but has been reclaimed by many parts of the LGBTQ+ movement.

Questioning: This refers to individuals who may be unsure of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Sex assigned at birth: The sex, male, female, or intersex, that a doctor or midwife uses to describe a child at birth based on their external anatomy. 

Two-Spirit: While variety in terminology remains, the unifying term ‘Two-Spirit’ describes an individual who has both a male and female essence. Whether the person was assigned male or female at birth does not matter. The term also expresses traditional Indigenous understanding of a non-female, non-male gender. Two-Spirit individuals are not bound by gender roles, binary gender expression, or sexual orientation, and live according to a fluid and non-linear identity. Many Two-Spirit individuals feel that the term embodies all aspects of identity including sexuality, culture, gender, and spirituality. It also highlights how each part of identity is interrelated. Find more information in Celebrating Our Magic.

Resources for Child Welfare Professionals, Agencies, and Providers

The following resources may assist individual child welfare professions, child welfare agencies, out-of-home providers and other service providers to learn more about how to best serve individuals within the LBGTQIA2S+ community.

Available Trainings

Child Welfare Agency Resources

Resources for Out-Of-Home Care Providers

Working with Native American and Two-Spirit Youth

Family/Caregiver Resources

The following resources may be helpful for family members and other caregivers seeking to support a child who identifies as LGBTQIA2S+. Child welfare professionals or other service providers may wish to share these resources directly with family and caregivers.

Youth Resources

The following resources may be helpful for children and youth who identify as LGBTQIA2S+ or who are learning about and exploring their gender identity and sexual orientation. Child welfare professionals or other service providers may wish to share these resources directly with children and youth they work with.

  • Diverse and Resilient
    • Resources for anti-violence, cultivating leaders, sexual health, and substance use. 
  • It Gets Better
    • Video essays from LGBTQIA2S+ individuals and allies to support, uplift, and empower LGBTQ+ youth.
  • imi
    • Guides built for and with LGBTQ+ teens to help them explore their identity and support their mental health.
  • Child Welfare Information Gateway: Resources for LGBTQ+ Youth in Out-of-Home Care  
    • Helps LGBTQ+ youth answer a variety of questions related to their out-of-home care experience. 
  • UW System LGBTQ Resources
    • Provides resources for and acts as a liaison to campus centers and the staff and faculty that serve LGBTQ+ students at UW System universities and colleges.
  • Trans Lifeline
    • Offers direct emotional and financial support to trans people in crisis – for the trans community, by the trans community.
  • Trevor Project
    • Youth can reach out to a counselor if they’re struggling, find answers and information, and get the tools they need to help someone else.

Medical Resources

Native American and Two-Spirit Resources

The following resources may be helpful for Native American children and youth who identify as LGBTQIA2S+ or who are learning about and exploring their gender identity and sexual orientation. Child welfare professionals or other service providers may wish to share these resources directly with children and youth they work with.

Health Care Resources

The following resources may be helpful for family members and other caregivers seeking to support a child who identifies as LGBTQIA2S+ with their medical needs. Child welfare professionals or other service providers may wish to share these resources directly with families and caregivers.

Wisconsin

  • Children’s Gender Health Clinic 
    • MS B540 
      8915 W. Connell Avenue 
      Milwaukee WI 53201 
      877-607-5280
    • Milwaukee-based gender health clinic providing medical, speech and language, social, and spiritual supports to children and adolescents
  • Gender Services, UW Health, Madison
    • Madison-based gender services program providing affirming care and support for transgender, gender expansive and nonbinary adults and children.
  • Bellin Health Ashwaubenon
    • 1630 Commanche Avenue 
      Green Bay, WI 54313 
      920-430-4700
    • Brown County-based medical provider specializing in transgender hormone therapy and women’s health.
  • Marshfield Clinic Health System
    • 1000 N Oak Ave 
      Marshfield, WI 54449 
      715-387-5087
    • Marathon County-based health provider specializing in genetic aspects of endocrine diseases and transgender health.

National

Wisconsin-Based LGBTQ Community Centers

The following resources may be helpful for children and youth who identify as LGBTQIA2S+ who are looking for support from local LGBTQ Centers. Child welfare professionals or other service providers may wish to share these resources directly with children and youth they work with or their families or caregivers.

The Center: 7 Rivers LGBTQ Connection 
230 Sixth Street South; La Crosse, WI 54601 
(608) 784-0452 
info@7riverslgbtq.org 

LGBT Center of SE Wisconsin 
1456 Junction Avenue; Racine, Wisconsin 53403 
(262) 664-4100 
info@lgbtsewi.org

LGBT Community Center of the Chippewa Valley  
505 S. Dewey St. Suite 204; Eau Claire, WI 54701 
715-552-5428 
Info@cvlgbt.org 

Milwaukee LGBT Community Center  
315 W Court Street; Milwaukee, WI 53212  
414-271-2656 
admin@mkelgbt.org 

OutReach LGBT Community Center 
2701 International Lane Ste 101; Madison, WI  53704 
 608-255-8582  
info@lgbtoutreach.org

Data Resources

The following resources provide more information about collecting data related to sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression (SOGIE) and the results of studies/surveys related to LGBTQIA2S+ children and youth.

Statistics

Data collection

Advocacy

The following resources provide more information about LGBTQIA2S+ state-wide and national advocacy efforts.

  • Fair Wisconsin
    • An advocacy group protecting LGBTQ civil rights through lobbying, legislative advocacy, grassroots organizing, coalition building and electoral involvement.
  • Family Acceptance Project 
    • A research, intervention, education and policy initiative to prevent health and mental health risks and to promote well-being for LGBTQ children and youth, including suicide, homelessness, drug use and HIV — in the context of their families, cultures and faith communities.
  • GLSEN 
    • An American education organization working to end discrimination, harassment, and bullying based on SOGIE status and to prompt LGBT cultural inclusion and awareness in K-12 schools.
  • GSAFE
    • An advocacy organization focusing on creating just schools for LGBTQ+ youth in Wisconsin.
  • The National Center for Transgender Equality
    • An advocacy organization for changing policies and society to increase understanding and acceptance of transgender people.
  • PFLAG
    • The first and largest organization dedicated to supporting, educating, and advocating for LGBTQ+ people and their families.
  • Sylvia Rivera Law Project
    • A legal aid organization that serves low-income or people of color who are intersex, transgender and/or gender-expansive. 
  • National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center 
    • Resources for LGBTQ2S individuals on topics of history, advocacy, healing, and best practices for providing services to Native LGBTQ2S relatives.

DCF Contact

For technical assistance and support, please contact the Division of Safety and Permanence Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee at DCFDSPEIAC@wisconsin.gov with the subject line LGBTQIA2S+  
 

The links on this page are provided for informational purposes; they do not constitute an endorsement or approval by the Department of Children and Families of the products, services or opinions of the corporation or organization or individual.