Policies and Laws Regarding the LGBTQ Community

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Note: External links are provided for the convenience of the user. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by the Office of Children and Family Services, as noted in the disclaimer. When users click an external link and leave the OCFS website, they should be aware that they are subject to the privacy and security policies of the external site.

Publications

LGBTQ Sexual Orientation Series Booklet
From Youth in Progress' "Need to Know" series for youth in care.
Health Services for Children in Foster Care
This PDF specifies the needs of, and services that should be provided to, LGBT children and youth in foster care. (Please see pages 13 to 16.)

Policies

Administrative Directives

21-OCFS-ADM-05
Regulatory Changes and Standards of Care for Youth in Congregate Care Settings

The purpose of this Administrative Directive (ADM) is to provide guidance on recent regulatory changes in conjunction with the creation of policy-based standards of care that will continue to promote and maintain the health, safety and well-being of all youth placed in all congregate care settings that are licensed by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), including those operated by voluntary foster care agencies and local departments of social services (LDSS). To accompany the regulatory changes described herein, specifically the development of mandated policies, OCFS is providing sample policies that comport with the regulations. This ADM is also to inform congregate care programs of future incident reporting requirements.

20-OCFS-ADM-03
Runaway and Homeless Youth Provider Training on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Queer Cultural Competency

The purpose of this Administrative Directive (ADM) is to inform local departments of social services (LDSSs) of Chapter 579 of the Laws of 2019, which amends Social Services Law (SSL) § 473-d by eliminating redundant and unnecessary reporting requirements and reduces the number of required annual assessments for clients of a community guardianship program.

09-OCFS-ADM-07
NYS OCFS Administrative Directive, Recognition of Legal Same-Sex Marriages

Informs local districts, voluntary agencies and other providers of the implications of the Supreme Court decision that legally-performed same-sex marriages are "entitled to recognition in New York in the absence of express legislation to the contrary" (Martinez, 50 A.D.3d at 193).This includes, among other items, extension of benefits by Civil Service to eligible NY employees' spouses, rewording of forms, the need for adoption statutes to include gender non-specific wording such as spouse or couples rather than husband or wife, and certification and approval of interested same-sex couples as foster parents.

Informational Letters

21-OCFS-INF-06
Introduction of the LGBTQ+ Community Practice Model

The purpose of this informational letter (INF) is to introduce to the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) overseen and regulated community the LGBTQ+ Community Practice Model. The LGBTQ+ Community Practice Model was designed by OCFS to establish a consistent and affirming approach when engaging members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer (LGBQ) and/or transgender, gender nonconforming, nonbinary (TGNC) community (LGBTQ+) across OCFS programming, policy, and practice in New York State. Additionally, a SOGIE Terms, Concepts, and Definitions document has been developed to accompany the practice model.

20-OCFS-INF-10
Child Welfare League of America and Lambda Legal Toolkit: Getting Down to Basics: Tools to Support LGBTQ Youth in Care

The purpose of this Informational Letter (INF) is to inform local departments of social services (LDSSs), voluntary authorized agencies (VAs), detention providers, and youth bureaus of the availability of resources for improving practice and outcomes for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning (LGBTQ), transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) youth and young adults. These resources include prior guidance from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and the toolkit Getting Down to Basics: Tools to Support LGBTQ Youth in Care, which was developed in partnership with the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) and Lambda Legal.

13-OCFS-INF-01
NYS OCFS Informational Letter: Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention Act and Building Competent Communities for Youth Suicide Prevention.

The purpose of the Informational Letter is to inform local social services districts and other agencies about the Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention Act Grant awarded in 2011 to the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH). It is provided through the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The three-year grant is designed to build capacity in child-caring systems, Latina youth services organizations, and selected counties to increase detection of youth suicide risk, prevent suicide attempts and deaths, and respond to suicide events effectively. The development of competent communities, via the grant, seeks to enhance recognition of signs of suicide and provide effective screening, assessment, safety planning, treatment, referral and follow-up for youth at risk of suicide.

11-OCFS-INF-05
NYS OCFS Informational Letter: Clarification of Adoption Study Criteria Related to Length of Marriage and Sexual Orientation

The purpose of this Informational Letter (INF) is to provide clarification to local departments of social services (LDSS) and voluntary authorized agencies regarding 18 NYCRR 421.16 (e) and (h) in relation to length of marriage and sexual orientation as adoption study criteria.

11-OCFS-INF-01
NYS OCFS Informational Letter: Adoption by Two Unmarried Adult Intimate Partners

This states that regardless of sexual orientation, two unmarried adults in a committed relationship may adopt another person, subject to the laws and policies that govern all adoptive relationships.

09-OCFS-INF-06
NYC OCFS Informational Letter: Promoting a Safe and Respectful Environment

For Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Children and Youth in Out-of-Home Placement.

Regulations

New York State Laws

The Dignity for All Students Act
Seeks to provide the State’s public elementary and secondary school students with a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment, and bullying on school property, a school bus and/or at a school function.
The Marriage Equality Act
Allows for same-sex marriage in New York State.
Ban on Conversion Therapy in New York State
Designates as professional misconduct, engaging in sexual orientation change efforts by mental health care professionals upon patients under 18 years of age.
Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA)
Offers protection for LGB persons from discrimination in employment, housing, credit, education and public accommodation based on real or perceived sexual orientation.
Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA)
Offers protection for transgender, gender nonconforming and nonbinary persons from discrimination in employment, housing, credit, education and public accommodation based on real or perceived gender identity or expression.
Spousal Eligibility - Revised New York State Health Insurance Program Policy (internal only)
NYS employees can elect coverage for a legally married spouse, regardless of the sexual orientations of the couple.

Federal Laws

Administration for Children and Families (ACF): Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Youth in Foster Care
Every child and youth who is unable to live with his or her parents is entitled to a safe, loving and affirming foster care placement, irrespective of the young person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression
Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009
Provides funding and technical assistance to state, local, and tribal jurisdictions to help them to more effectively investigate and prosecute hate crimes.
United States v. Windsor
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in June 2013. Same-sex couples legally married in New York State and elsewhere deserve the same rights and benefits under federal law as all other married couples.