Among its many functions, the Human Rights Campaign analyzes the inclusiveness and effectiveness of organizations that serve populations in need. One of the HRC’s programs, All Children – All Families, looks into organizations that provide youth and family services to the LGBTQ community. Recently, a local organization called Northwest Resources Associates received recognition from the HRC for their work providing adoption services for LGBTQ youth and LGBTQ families.
Homeless LGBTQ youth are at considerably greater risk than other homeless kids and teens. The National Coalition for the Homeless reports that 20 percent of all homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, even though LGBTQ youth are only 10 percent of the total youth population. Other organizations, such as the National Resource Center for Youth Development, put the homeless LGBTQ youth rate as high as 40 percent. This group is nearly twice as likely to be sexually victimized while homeless and is more than twice as likely to commit suicide.
The figures coming out of many adoption agencies that don’t focus on the needs of LGBTQ youth suggest that even adoption is more difficult for the demographic. The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections recently found that as many as 78 percent of LGBTQ youth placed in foster care attempt to run away from their family of placement or have to be transferred elsewhere because of the foster family’s hostility toward the youth’s sexual orientation.
Because of these unique issues, LGBTQ youth who have no place else to go benefit more from organizations that concentrate on finding family placement specifically for such at-risk groups. The All Children – All Families program identifies a number of factors that indicate an LGBTQ-friendly service organization. The core of this is practicing and seeking non-discrimination within the organization and its partners. This extends to inclusiveness in the education and training programs that the organization provides, as well as how capably the organization can demonstrate its knowledge of the community around it.
Northwest Resource Associates has been operating since 1980. The organization focuses on both sides of the adoption process, providing assistance for kids in need of families as well as adults hoping to adopt in the near future. The organization’s headquarters is in Seattle, and they have offices throughout the region, as well as in Alaska. The NWRA joins 48 other organizations around the United States that have received the All Children – All Families leadership award.
While recent numbers from the Pew Research Center indicate that there were more than 70,000 same-sex married couples in the United States by 2013, that number is set to skyrocket as more states legalize same-sex marriage. The HRC claims that more than 2 million same-sex couples, married or otherwise, are interested in adoption, though many adoption agencies will not allow them to participate, either because of organizational policy or state law. All states allow LGBTQ individuals to petition to adopt a child, but many states prohibit same-sex couples from petitioning jointly.
Seattle is one of 11 U.S. cities that the HRC recognizes with a score of 100 percent on their index of LGBTQ-friendly places. 2013 data from the U.S. Census Bureau finds that 2.6 percent of all households in Seattle are headed by same-sex couples, many of them making their homes in Capitol Hill. Adoption by LGBTQ individuals and same-sex couples are entirely legal in Washington.
In addition to providing recognition and education for adoption and foster care organizations, the Human Rights Campaign maintains a library of resources for LGBTQ youth, students and married couples. Various reports and articles on these topics are available at the HRC website.