June 25, 2019

National PRIDE Month Statement From CEO Terri Sorensen

Friends of the Children is a proud supporter of National PRIDE Month.

PORTLAND, Ore. – Every day, we seek to embrace, support, protect and unconditionally love every child we serve, including youth who identify as LGBTQ+ and/or are gender non-conforming.

In addition to the many staff members across the country who are part of the LGBTQ+ and/or gender non-conforming community, Friends of the Children serves hundreds of youth who identify as LGBTQ+ or are questioning their gender identity/sexuality.

Over the past year, our national network embarked on an intentional process to reaffirm our organizational values. Two of those values include putting children first and demanding equity. These values guide how we support and advocate for our children, how we select children for our program, how we hire staff and how we make decisions about the organization. By its nature, these values explicitly demonstrate how and why we support the LGBTQ+ community.

Our model is also founded on nine Core Assets that we believe will empower our youth to enter adulthood, prepared with the skills and opportunities needed to thrive. One of our most important core assets is to find belonging, which is defined as: "I understand who I am, have a place where I feel accepted and know that my contributions count." In addition, we inspire our youth to find hope and build positive relationships.

Research has shown that LGBTQ+ youth are at higher risk for suicide, bullying, mental health issues, violence, homelessness and social isolation, among several other negative experiences. We actively seek to protect our youth to ensure that they feel safe, loved and supported, regardless of their gender identity or sexuality.

It is our great honor to serve youth in the LGBTQ+ community. We believe that every child in our program who identifies as LGBTQ+ can thrive with the support of a Friend—a professional mentor who stays with each child from kindergarten through high school graduation—12+ years, no matter what.

To our staff, board members and youth around the country who are part of the LGBTQ+ community: we see you, we love you, and you are important and valued members of the Friends of the Children family.

If you are a young person who identifies as LGBTQ+ or is questioning your gender identity or sexuality, we encourage you to please reach out to The Trevor Project. Their trained counselors are there to support you 24/7. If you are a young person in crisis, feeling suicidal or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk, call the TrevorLifeline now at 1.866.488.6386.