This year, HRC is proud to mark National Foster Care Month with the launch of HRC Foundation and FosterClub’s #FosterEquality campaign. Throughout the month, we will share stories of LGBTQ youth in foster care and agencies that are working to improve their practices with LGBTQ youth. Today, we highlight the story of Isaiah Palomo and his experiences in Idaho’s foster care system.
Isaiah grew up the oldest of five siblings in a single mother household. Eventually, issues within the home separated him from his younger siblings and mother and he entered foster care at the age of 13. During his third placement, Isaiah began exploring his sexual orientation and was met with rejection and isolation.
“Because I didn't want to go to church and because I was struggling with who I was, led my foster family to distance themselves from me, making it hard to connect with them and gain support. Of the five foster children and three biological children in the foster home, I was the only one to be singled out and treated differently.”
Although Isaiah experienced rejection at that particular placement, his next placement was supportive and accepting.
“They gave me assurances that being gay wasn’t bad and introduced me to others by my name and not the label of “the gay foster kid.” Their support gave me confidence to come out freely and start being the real me.”
Isaiah is currently studying social work and stays active on the Idaho Foster Youth Advisory Board. He had some words of encouragement for other LGBTQ youth learning to understand their identity while in the foster care system.
“It will be a struggle for sure, but a struggle that will make you more confident in yourself and stronger. Your voice and your self-worth are too precious to be shut down and ignored.”
HRC’s All Children – All Families project works with adoption and foster care agencies nation-wide to ensure that agency staff implements best practices so that more LGBTQ youth can feel accepted in their placements and believe in their chances to thrive.