Metro Weekly

Nevada governor signs bill protecting LGBTQ kids in foster care

Foster care and juvenile justice agencies dealing with LGBTQ youth must undergo competency training

Brian Sandoval – Photo: Facebook.

LGBTQ youth in Nevada’s foster care and juvenile detention systems will now have additional protections and be recognized according to their sexual orientation or gender identity under a new law signed into effect by Gov. Brian Sandoval (R).

The bill passed through the legislature with bipartisan support, passing the House 26-15 and the Senate 18-2.

Under the bill’s provisions, children in state care must be treated according to their gender identity. The law also requires that agents of the state who deal with children, as well as prospective foster or adoptive parents, undergo special competency training on how to address the needs of LGBTQ-identifying youth.

“Ensuring that every child, regardless of background, identity, or expression is safe and secure is not something I am willing to compromise on,” Sandoval said in a statement. “This bill requires the appropriate levels of training to ensure that our state employees or state-sponsored guardians have the knowledge and understanding to provide the highest levels of care for the children they serve.”

Currey Cook, counsel for Lambda Legal and director of the Youth in Out-of-Home Care Project, who testified at a Senate hearing in favor of the bill, celebrated the passage of the new law.

“This bill will help ensure that LGBTQ youth in the Nevada child welfare system receive the care, support and respect they need and deserve,” Cook said in a statement. “Study after study has shown children thrive when they are respected for who they are. This is especially true of children in foster care and juvenile justice settings and of critical importance for the well-being of transgender youth.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com