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The Administration For Children’s Services Changes Their Policy For Transgender Youth In Foster Care

New York – On June 20th, 2008 The Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) Commissioner John Mattingly signed a new non-discrimination policy that specifically prohibits ACS staff and contract agencies from discriminating on the basis of gender identity. The policy applies both to youth in care and to prospective foster or adoptive parents, and is intended to ensure that ACS and its provider agencies “provide services based on principles of sound professional practice and not based on societal, institutional, or personal prejudices.” The policy recognizes that ACS must make every effort to place youth in the least restrictive foster care placements that are appropriate, and that discrimination may take many forms, including the use of language that may cause emotional harm, verbal abuse, and excessive teasing, as well as violence, threats, and harassment. In addition to the newly revised ACS policy, discrimination against transgender, intersex, or gender nonconforming youth violates the New York City and State Human Rights laws, as well as NYS Social Services regulations. The Sylvia Rivera Law Project’s work to improve conditions for transgender, intersex, and gender nonconforming youth dates back to our landmark victory in Doe v. Bell, which established that youth in care have a right to wear clothing appropriate for their gender identity.Since that time, we have been engaged in policy negotiations with ACS on a variety of topics, including placement of youth, staff training, and youth access to transgender health care. The new anti-discrimination policy is an exciting victory and will be a valuable tool in our efforts to implement further policy reform. We look forward to working with ACS to ensure that all ACS staff are adequately trained on the policy and that the policy is broadly interpreted and fully implemented by ACS contract facilities.

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