It is important to let Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Questioning (LBGTQ) youth know that they are welcome and safe. The use of visual signs is one method of clearly letting youth know they are welcome in a new environment. A Children’s Bureau (CB) grantee in Los Angeles provides an example of how to use signs effectively.
The RISE (Recognize, Intervene, Support, and Empower) Project is a five-year cooperative agreement awarded to the Los Angeles LGBT Center (Center) by CB and aims to address barriers to permanency and well-being for LGBTQ youth in the child welfare system in Los Angeles County by decreasing anti-gay and anti-transgender bias.
To address the over-representation of LGBTQ youth in the foster care system, RISE set out to develop and evaluate a multi-pronged approach to helping LGBTQ youth find permanent and supportive families. Early research revealed that many LBGTQ youth in the foster care system question whether their environments are safe spaces. RISE engaged youth to design posters named “Brave Space” and other materials to let all youth know that caseworkers, offices, and other environments are safe places. Equally important is the message to others that anti-gay and anti-transgender remarks won’t be tolerated.
The “Brave Space” poster was designed to be colorful, engaging, and easy to understand. Putting up the “Brave Space” posters is the first step in a very intentional process to change the culture of a very large system. While the use of a poster might not seem to be an overwhelming gesture, it is often the first step to a LBGTQ youth knowing that they will be respected, treated fairly, and honored.