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About Just out. (Portland, OR) 1983-2013 | View Entire Issue (March 16, 1984)
Foster care and
needed by lesbian
and gay teens
by Bruce K. Mason. MSW
Clinical Social Worker
W ithin a week of the time 15 year-old Janet
came out to her parents, she was gang-raped
by a cousin and several of his friends. The
rape occurred with the tacit approval of
Janet’s father, who ignored her cries. He
thought the experience would ‘straighten her
out.' Janet’s assailants included most of her
classmates at her small rural school. Janet
soon began to skip school. Finally her
truancies came to the attention of the Juvenile
Court, which referred the case for investiga
tion by the local child welfare agency. When
the facts of the rape came to light, Janet was
placed in foster care in her own community.
In the foster home Janet was required to
shower each time she came in. She was
given virtually no freedom to come and go.
Janet ran away from the foster home several
times; however, each time she ran away she
was returned to the same fostr home. A year
and a half after the rape Janet again ran away
and hitchhiked several hundred miles to
Eugene where she sought refuge with an
I just received a letter from my parents. It
seems that they want to visit me from out of
town next month. I have just moved into a
lovely two-bedroom apartment with my lover.
We use one bedroom as a bedroom and the
other as a combination study/library. It is ob
vious that only one bedroom is used as such.
I am in a quandary. Should we rent a bed
for the library and pretend that one of us
sleeps there, or should we come clean and
tell them everything.
Petrified in Portlcuid
Wait a minute. Stop tearing at your hair. Sit
down and take a deep breath.
Just O ut, M arch 16^March 30
In the summer of 1983, CSD workers were
advised by the Salem Central Office that they
could not deny Foster Care Provider appli
cants based on sexual orientation alone. Al
ternative life-style applicants are to be studied
as would any other applicants be studied.
Regrettably, I have not heard of any Les
bian or Gay applicants. The requirements are
not stringent. Most gay homes with children
are probably certifiable. Single-person and
couple homes are probably certifiable as
well; major qualificatons are adequacy of
space, fire protection, etc.
Both the National Association of Social
Workers and the Juvenile Court support the
development of gay foster homes; there is a
need for shelter homes; homes which can
accept a child on an emergency basis for a
day or two or as long as a month, and for
regular foster homes; where placement can
be made on a relatively permanent basis for
several months or longer.
I would be glad to talk with anyone who
m ight be interested in becoming a foster pa
rent and I would both explain and help them
through the certification process. The state
does make a contribution toward room and
board and the child’s expenses, as well as
providing medical coverage. The primary re
ward is the satisfaction of having helped.
Please call me, Bruce Mason, MSW, at the
NASW office: 232-5003.
Park, Colorado yesterday. It was a beautiful,
sunny day, the ski slopes were dusted with
four inches of fresh powder snow, and most
of all, no people, no lift lines and no broken
legs! All in all, Winter Park is a great buy. You
get all the amenities of a large resort (Vail,
Aspen, etc.) without the expense or hassle of
large crowds. It is a very laid back community,
just a few bars, moderate restaurants (except
the Swiss Village, awful, awfule, awfull no
matter how you spell it!) and people from all
over the USA. Lift tickets run $ 18.00 per day,
a condo for 2-4 should cost about $85.00 per
day, and they have a ski train out of Denver
right to the lifts. There were seven of us who
went and each one of us thought it was the
best value for the money.
housing/parties/guides. All is still available.
Now exactly what did you mean when you
wrote, “ perhaps you should tell your parents
We, who share your affectional preference,
do not want to “ know everything.” You did not
mean, for example, exactly describing the
acts performed with a combination of choco
late sauce and your lover’s toes to an embar
rassed pair ot parents.
We know and appreciate your desire to
share your happiness with those to whom
you feel close. “ Coming Out” is affirming
yourself as an adult to society, to your pa
rents, and most importantly to yourself.
What we can not know is whether this visit
is the best time for you to organize a “ Coming
O ut” encounter.
Ideally, important decisions are made in an
atmosphere of freedom and readiness rather
than an atmosphere of acute anxiety.
After all, when you greet the folks you will
want to radiate health and happiness not the
panic and alarm your signautre name,
“ petrified,” implies.
Also, you will want to feel in control when
you decide whether “to tell” or “ not to tell”
your parents. This decision will be easier
when you realize that your parents are com
ing to your apartment as visitors and not as
examiners. There is no need for your “con
fession.” You are choosing whether or not
you will now be inviting them to share this
part of your life.
Now we will offer two basic strategies. The
first called “ NOT to tell" folllowed by, the
second, called “TO tell". With these in mind
the choice will be yours based on your know
ing and understanding your parents. And of
course, your courage.
Very well, now here is the nitty gritty.
It’s time I scribe one of these articles about
what is up and coming (so to speak) in the
wonderful world of travel.
First of all, we just returned from Winter
to deal with sexuality, sexual identity, and
com ing out. There is a great range of differ
ence in family response. The experiences of
Brad and Janet are probably at the more
severe end of the scale. Lesbian and Gay
adolescents do report physical abuse from
parents in fits of rage. They also report re
striction from contact with friends, invasion
of their mail, interrogation of callers and total
lack of privacy as well as coercion into treat
ment and/or religious counseling. Kids who
run from their homes, or for other reasons
become involved in the Juvenile System’ are
often so insecure in their sexual identity and
tainted with homophobia themselves that
they don’t raise sexuality as an issue. Kids
who are secure and self-affirming still may
not be able to live with their families, depend
ing on the fam ily’s ability to accept homosex
uality as a normal sexual orientation.
The current emphasis of the Oregon
Children’s Services Division (CSD) is to pro
vide intensive services (family therapy) to
families in their own homes, with the aim of
m aintaining children in their own homes. If
services cannot be provided or are not effec
tive, children will be put in some kind of out-
of-hom e placement In my own experience
as a CSD worker I never encountered an
openly Lesbian or Gay foster care provider.
There are several foster homes which treat
gay kids fairly and decently, however what is
needed is some good, gay, foster home
r a m n
i nf i l i
by Dauid R. Brewer
aunt and uncle who lived there. The aunt and
uncle were sympathetic and understanding.
After several court hearings and some
intense fam ily conflict between the aunt and
the natural parents, the Juvenile Court
awarded temporary custody of Janet to her
aunt and uncle. She completed high school
there with honors and went on to earn top
marks in college.
Brad was almost 17 when he came out to
his parents. The following day he came home
from school and found all of his possessions
on the steps. When he tried to talk with his
parents his mother would not respond at all.
His father said only, “My son Brad is dead. I
no longer have a son.” Brad’s father was the
Minister of the fundamentalist Christian
church in the small Idaho community. As a
result of his father’s influence. Brad found
that the town’s doors were closed to him. He
found his way to Boise. He lived on the streets
there for awhile before moving on to Spokane,
Seattle, and finally to Portland. In Portland
Brad became involved with both prostitution
and drug traffic, and became addicted to
heroin. Brad was arrested on drug charges
two days after his 18th birthday. He eventually
served three months in the county jail. Fortu
nately, after his jail term Brad got into a re
habilitation program. He is now working and
com pleting high school at night.
Lesbian and Gay adolescents are usually
living with their families at the time they begin
The wonderful world
• • •
Upcom ing Tours:
O lym pics/A rt Festial: July 28-August 12:
It’s not too late to get tickets to the Olympic
sporting events plus arrange private Gay
N O T T O TE LL
Reserve them sleeping accommodations
elsewhere. Hosts need not always house their
visitors. Motel rooms are very comfortable.
And when the folks visit your apartment
sim ply close the bedroom doors. They may
want to ignore such clues of sexual taste as
miscellaneous copies of Lesbian Nation or
Pink Triangle Buttons.
There are, however, limits to what visitors
can politely be expected to ignore. A polite
Birthplace of Women’s Rights Tour:
May 4-6 Seneca Falls, NY. Visit the National
W omen’s Hall of Fame and have Sunday
brunch, lecture and slide show by Sandra
Pollack. The overnight trips from New York
start at $110.00.
Well, that’s all the space my editor will let
me have. But, alas, more to come in every
visitor cannot ignore the sight of you and
your lover in the middle of a heated chocolate
sauce and toe session, for example.
For all but the most insatiably curious pa
rent the idea of two people of the same sex
"room ing together" s charming.
T O TE LL
Many before you have happily chosen this
option when finding themselves in similar
straights (sic ]. A well-orchestrated "Coming
O ut” can be exhilerating for you and, at the
very least, bearable and interesting for your
PLEASE — talk with them privately. No
matter how much your parents may come to
love and treasure your lover, this is one time
s/he will not be welcome. This is time
between just you and your parents.
After greeting your folks, all health and
smiles now, and after they are settled and are
unpacked, is the time to broach the subject
Your opening line can be simply, “ I would like
to talk with you about something important
to me and I’d like for us to set some time