A bill seeking to amend the foster care vetting process to ensure LGBTQ+ youth are not placed in homes that could become hostile towards them is set to become California law.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday, Sept. 23, signed Senate Bill 407, proposed by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, which directs the Department of Social Services to amend the foster care vetting process to ensure LGBTQ+ youth are not placed in hostile foster homes.
"LGBTQ+ youth deserve a supportive and affirming home the same as any other child," Wiener said in a statement on Saturday. "I'm proud that California is taking this step to expand support for LGBTQ+ youth at a time when elected leaders in other states are targeting them with cruel restrictions and hate."
According to the senator's office, SB 407 will strengthen the resource family approval process for LGBTQ+ foster youth by requiring assessment of a family's ability and willingness to meet the needs of a child, regardless of the child's sexual orientation or gender identity.
SB 407 also requires that, should difficulty around these issues arise, resource family applicants demonstrate a willingness to obtain resources offered by the county or foster family agency or other available resources to meet those needs, the office added.
Data from the University of California at Berkeley and the California Department of Social Services indicate that there are more than 51,300 foster youth statewide as of April 2023, more than 30 percent of which identify as LGBTQ+, Wiener's office estimates.
The lawmaker said that anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation, which already affects LGBTQ+ youth disproportionately, are on the rise amid a nationwide onslaught of attacks on LGBTQ+ youth's rights.
"Over 400 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been filed in states across the country this year alone, and LGBTQ+ youth are exposed to the bigotry behind them via social media," Wiener's office said on Saturday.
It also added that the degree of support for their identity that LGBTQ+ youth receive at home is a strong predictor of their mental health outcomes. According to data from the Trevor Project, teens who perceived parental support regarding gender identity were 93 percent less likely to attempt suicide than youth who did not perceive parents as supportive.
SB 407 is one of nine bills that Gov. Newsom signed over the weekend, all seeking to expand protection and recognition for LGBTQ+ people.
SB 407 is sponsored by Equality California and the California Alliance of Child and Family Services.