Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval Tuesday signed Assembly Bill 99, a bill that requires child welfare and juvenile justice agencies in Nevada to treat transgender children in their care in accordance with their gender identity. The law also requires child welfare agency and juvenile justice staff as well as foster parents to be trained on working with LGBTQ children. Under the law, the Nevada Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) must establish a protocol for placing transgender youth in accordance with their identity and involve LGBTQ youth with experience in care in its development. In addition, the law establishes a grievance process for children who have problems with their treatment while in care.
Currey Cook, Lambda Legal Counsel and Director, Youth in Out-of-Home Care Project, who testified before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee in favor of the bill, said, “This bill will help ensure that LGBTQ youth in the Nevada child welfare system receive the care, support and respect they need and deserve. Study after study has shown children thrive when they are respected for who they are. This is especially true of children in foster care and juvenile justice settings and of critical importance for the well-being of transgender youth. AB 99 makes clear that LGBTQ youth in care must receive that respect, and that the adults who work in the system must have appropriate training and resources to affirm and support them.”
Cook added, “We are delighted that the Nevada legislature, with bipartisan support, has acted to protect and support LGBTQ children who come into the child welfare and juvenile justice system and are grateful to Governor Sandoval for signing this new law. Nevada joins a growing number of states across the country who appreciate the need to ensure that LGBTQ children receive the consideration they deserve when they are most vulnerable.”
AB 99 was introduced in the Nevada General Assembly by primary sponsor Assemblymen Nelson Araujo in early February and passed out of the Nevada Senate with bipartisan support last week after unanimous testimony in favor of the bill, including testimony from LGBTQ youth with experience in Nevada foster care. Cook worked with local advocates to form a Nevada LGBTQ Youth in Out-of-Home Care Work Group last year and to assist its co-sponsors, the Children’s Advocacy Alliance Nevada, the LGBT Center of Southern Nevada, and others to develop and advance this important legislation.
Read more about Lambda Legal’s work with children in out-of-home care here: lambdalegal.org/issues/youth-in-out-of-home-care.