PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For a foster child in Oregon, finding a home can be difficult, but it’s even more difficult for LGBTQ foster youths.
Many find themselves going from home to home because they’re not completely accepted for who they are. In fact, about 40% of the homeless population in Portland identifies as LGBTQ, according to the Department of Human Services. Currently in Multnomah County, there are 1,479 youths in foster care.
KOIN 6 News had the chance to talk to a bisexual foster youth, 18-year-old Sage Dupre. She graduated from high school a year early and has been taking courses at Portland Community College.
Sage has identified as bisexual for almost her entire life and knows from experience how hard it is to find an understanding family as she’s been in 6 different foster homes.
She said, “So many people don’t understand or they’re just wrong. So it’s kind of having to prove yourself everyday. You shouldn’t have to do that.”
Sage said she’s been in the foster care system for almost 5 years and said it’s been a struggle to be in a home where the parents don’t understand her bisexuality.
A few homes she stayed in forced her to go to church and wouldn’t allow her to be on the phone with certain people.
Sage not feeling comfortable in a foster home isn’t uncommon for DHS case workers to hear from LGBTQ youths.
According to Meghan Nielson, a social service specialist 1, “It’s really hard to find placements for non-LGBTQ youth,” which is why they’re especially concerned for LGBTQ foster youth. The DHS said they’re having to place children in emergency situations, like hotels, although they also struggle to find emergency placements sometimes.
While Sage has been depressed in the past, which resulted in self-harming and running away from homes, she said “I’m here. I powered through it.”
DHS employees said the situation for foster youths is dire, but there are ways to help. KOIN 6 learned it’s not as difficult to become a foster parent as you might think. Click here to learn more about how you can help.