LGBTQ+ Fostering │ Supporting LGBTQ+ Foster Placements

Ellis & Lou Beardsmore

Wondering how to have open conversations with a young person in your care about LGBTQ+ topics? Or simply want to build your own knowledge and skills in being an LGBTQ+ fostering ally? Then this blog and podcast episode is for you.

Lou and Ellis from Pride Outside speak to Swiis Foster Care Scotland about guiding you through difficult conversations, supportive opportunities and raising awareness about the issues faced by LGBTQ+ youth.

About Pride Outside

Hi, I’m Ellis I use they/them pronouns and I’m Lou and I use she/her pronouns. We are a married couple and also business partners. Together we run Pride Outside which is a Glasgow-based social enterprise.

At Pride Outside, we are trying to create and promote a world where LGBTQ+ people feel safe and well-supported. At Pride Outside, we do that in two ways:

  • With Pride Outside learning work, we collaborate with organisations to be more inclusive and educate people on their LGBTQ+ community.
  • With Pride Outside well-being work we create beautiful outdoor events for the LGBTQ+ community.

What Are Your Top Tips to Foster Carers Who Will Be Welcoming a Young Person from the LGBTQ+ Community into Their Family?

Discuss Shame

Young LGBTQ+ people can feel a lot of shame. The antidote to shame is compassion, so I think actually talking about it is what gets rid of the shame. Even if that’s just naming it, wanting to understand more, or wanting to support the young person. It’s that intention to try and be compassionate.

I would say a lot of younger people are working with shame so just naming it and seeing their support and compassion is the first thing.

Educate Yourself

Think about what you can do to educate yourself. Asking what language that young person would use to describe their sexuality, what pronouns they might want to use, what name they want to use and respecting that.

Share in LGBTQ+ Activities

While it depends on the age of the young person, think of things you can do together, such as the Pride Outside festival, or any tv shows, books (check out your local library to see if they have an LGBTQ+ section) or media that can be used to explore their LGBTQ+ identity.

How can Foster Carers Learn to Use the Right Pronouns?

There’s a lot that we could say about pronouns but just to keep it simple, we are used to using she/her, he/him, but, they/them is predominantly used by people who are non-binary. This means they don’t identify as male or female. People who identify as non-binary or sometimes transgender would use they/them pronouns.

The first time I used they/them for Ellis, it took me a while to adapt. At first, I used Ellis’s name so everything sounded so formal, and then I thought ‘ I know why I’m doing this’, it was because I was so nervous about getting it wrong.

As Ellis has assured me, any change will take time. After Ellis started using they/them and we started doing work with Pride Outside, I noticed so many people using they/them that my head made the shift. We found that bringing they/them into our general vocabulary, where we don’t know someone’s gender, can really help it become smoother.

It can be really hard for you as a foster carer but, the importance that it holds for that young person can be significant. Creating that safe space for them in your home is invaluable.

Our tip for when you do get a pronoun wrong, rather than saying sorry, is to either say ‘thanks for keeping me right’ or ‘thanks for correcting me’ and then move on.

How Can Foster Carers Navigate Tricky Conversations with Their Family or Friends About What Their Young Person is Going Through?

Advocating and standing for your young person and working out where that shared ground is. Thinking about the tricker questions you might get asked and advocating for their support and safety. Understanding that supporting them is the thing that is going to keep them well and happy.

Also encouraging broader education about LGBTQ+ including sharing your own experiences with others about educating yourself on what it means to be LGBTQ+.

It’s also important to recognise boundaries for supporting your young person and when that space might feel less safe for them. That might mean withdrawing from spaces or people for a while and recognising what is needed for the young person.

What Does it Mean When a Young Person is Questioning?

Most LGBTQ+ people start questioning their sexuality quite young. If a young person comes to speak to you about their sexuality, it’s likely not the first time they’ve thought about it.

For most people, questioning is a process that then results in coming out, but that’s not necessarily the case for everyone.

One of the most powerful things you can do for a young person questioning is to believe them and to support them.

With questioning gender, it can be about giving that young person the space and encouragement to explore through their clothes, makeup and hairstyles.

Listen to the Full Swiis Foster Care Scotland Podcast with Pride Outside

Pride Outside - Learning

Links and Resources Mentioned Within the Podcast

Pride Outside

Website –
Instagram – @Prideoutsidecic
ALOK – YouTube Podcast

Books for Younger Children

Grandad’s Camper: A picture book for children that celebrates LGBTQIA+ families by Harry Woodgate
Celebrate love in all its forms, as Grandad tells his granddaughter about the adventures he used to have with Gramps. A long time ago, Grandad and Gramps spent many happy days travelling the world together in a camper van. But now Gramps isn’t around any more, Grandad doesn’t feel much like having adventures. As she listens to his wonderful stories, Grandad’s granddaughter has an idea to cheer him up…

The Pirate Mums by Jodie Lancet-Grant , Lydia Corry
Billy’s family is not what you’d call ordinary. His mums won’t listen to NORMAL music. They love to sing sea shanties and dance jigs in the lounge. Their clothes are highly unusual, they have a rude parrot for a pet, and their taste in house design is, well . . . FISHY. Billy wishes his family could be more like everyone else’s. Until a swashbuckling adventure changes everything!

Fostering LGBTQ+ Young People

Swiis welcomes foster carers from all walks of life, including those who are in a same-sex relationship. If you would like to find out more about becoming a foster carer, please fill out our enquiry form below and a member of our team will be in touch with you.

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