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San Diego’s Voices For Children Honored For Helping LGBT Foster Children

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Voices for Children is the first group of its kind to be awarded the Human Rights Campaign's "All Children - All Families" seal of recognition.

Photo caption:

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Pictured from left to right are Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, Voices of Children president Sharon Lawrence and Vincent Pompei from the Human Rights Campaign, July 15, 2015.

Voices for Children, a San Diego nonprofit organization, was honored Wednesday for helping foster children who are also members of the LGBT community.

Voices for Children is one of more than 900 organizations designated as court-appointed special advocates — or groups of people trained to help foster care children. The nonprofit became the first court-appointed advocate to be honored with the Human Rights Campaign's “All Children - All Families” seal of recognition.

Sharon Lawrence, president of Voices for Children, said the group works hard to make sure discrimination doesn’t follow LGBT children into the foster care system.

“In some cases biological families can shun children who are perhaps gay or bisexual,” Lawrence said. “We want to make sure that when they do come into the foster care system that doesn’t continue to happen.”

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, said Voices for Children volunteers walk into challenging situations.

“When you’re a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual or questioning, it adds to the complexity of growing up,” said Atkins who is a lesbian.

But many who work within the foster care system are not as educated about LGBT issues as they could be, Lawrence said.

“There are some social workers who understand the situation, some judges, some foster families who understand, and some who we just need to do a better job of educating” Lawrence said.

Atkins said she respects the loyalty Voices for Children shows the children it helps.

“They are going to do whatever it takes to support a kid,” Atkins said. “They don’t care what the issue is, where that kid comes from, they are going to be advocates for the kid first and foremost.”

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