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Transcripts of Selected Group Discussions on CYC-Net

Since it's founding in 1997, the CYC-Net discussion group has been asked thousands of questions. These questions often generate many replies from people in all spheres of the Child and Youth Care profession and contain personal experiences, viewpoints, as well as recommended resources.

Below are some of the threads of discussions on varying Child and Youth Care related topics.

Questions and Responses have been reproduced verbatim.

ListenListen to this

Youth that identify as LGBTQ?

I am a student wondering about a question that came up in my mind while writingan ethics paper.

My question is : Do CYCP workers accept the sexual identity of youth that identify as LGBTQ while dealing with their own ethical values and not the CYCP ethical code?

Steven McDonald

Good question Steve.

I don't think it is the role of the Child and Youth Care worker to pass judgment on any youth, no matter how they identify. Even if you think homosexuality is wrong, it is not your place as the Child and Youth Care worker to convey this to the youth.

Like many minorities, there will be a lot of issues to deal with including homophobia, potential rejection from parents, family and friends, possible suicidal issues, etc. The Child and Youth Care worker should support the youthbut if the worker does not feel comfortable then a referral to an LGBTTIQ-friendly organization/worker would be mostappropriate. This would be beneficial to the youth as they will be fully supported and there will be no hesitation or ethical issues from a worker who does not feel comfortable.

That's my take.
Lyndsay Kay

Hi Steven,

I believe that as CYCP worker it is important to be supportive and non-judgemental when it comes to youth who may identify as LGBTQ, regardless of our own personal values and or opinions. Youth who identify as LGBTQ are 3-4 times more likely to commit suicide than their counterparts, so the question should be... Aside from my own views, How do I help this youth to accept and love him/herself so they are strong enough to stand up to discrimination, rather than be brought down by it.

If a CYCP worker is not able to do this due to their own values and beliefs, it might be a good idea to find someone who can support and accept the youth.

If a youth comes out to someone they trust and they act negatively, it is worse then than not coming out at all!!

I hope this has helped!

Alana Leard


CYC workers have an serious obligation to accept and serve their young client regardless of sexual orientation. "Professional practitioners actively promote respect for cultural and human diversity" (quoted from the Competencies for Professional Child and Youth Work Practitioners).

While your personal values may conflict with the values/competencies put forth by the ACYCP it is important to remember that you are acting in a professional capacity; your personal values cannot be allowed to negatively affect your relationships with the children, youth, or their families entrusted to your care.

The fact that you realize this conflict between personal ethics and professional ethics is awesome! Many people go about their jobs unaware of the ways in which their personal beliefs greatly affect their interactions with their clients. I suggest seeing this ethical discrepancy as an opportunity to educate yourself. Take this opportunity to do some research on the LGBTQ community; learn about their unique experiences, not only their struggles but also the unique joy they find in their identity. Thank you so much for writing in – so many others would have ignored such an issue. Recognizing our personal biases is the first step for all CYCP's in moving toward effectively implemented multicultural education.

I hope this helps. For more information try browsing the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) website. They are a non-profit youth-oriented organization that works to end bias and discrimination in schools and other youth settings.



Unsure what you mean by ethical code. As a CYCW it is essential that we accept the youth for who they are regardless of their sexual orientation.

Why should it matter anyway?


Hi Steven,

I would like to answer your question but would like you to expand on it before sending my reply. Are you asking if personal biases interfere with CYCP work when it comes to the sexual identity of teens? Thanks for the clarification,

Delia Noel

Hi Steven,

I am a student at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and was hoping you would elaborate more on this query; as it is kind of confusing. By ethical values, what do you mean?

I would hope that most Child and Youth Care counselors (CYCC's) would accept all clients regardless of gender and sexual identity; seems rather silly to be judging people based on your own ethical value, whatever that means.

Please elaborate, this is something that needs to be explored further as I feel the lgbt and q community deserve our help more than anything.

Have a nice day :)

Ken Wildman

Hi Steve

Although all the replies are true, it is also important for you to accept yourself and to determine who you are and what you are willing to do. There is no shame in admitting to a youth that you do not know enough to help him and ask him whether you can help him find someone who knows more. It would be the same for a CYCW who lived with an alcoholic father and who may be resistant to work with substance abuse even though he worked through his own emotional issues. We all have our unique make-up – find your strength and focus on that instead of feeling ashamed for being uncomfortable with certain things. It is also judgmental of you if people tell you you are not entitled to your own values and opinions. The difference with professionals is that we often extend our value systems and decrease our biases because young people touch our heart. We are exposed to more variety in human experiences and can handle many more value clashes. So although we should never take away from another's sense of worth we also need to look after ourselves. If I know I cannot work with criminals for instance it is better for me to specialize in another direction and mean a lot to other client groups instead of continuously struggle with self-doubt and confusion.

I hope it also answered another element of your question, since you are busy addressing this as an ethics paper – there is hardly ever only one side to an ethical debate. If you go look at the threads on the CYC-Net site, you will see a previous discussion about gay clients.

Best wishes
Rika Swanzen
South Africa

Good dialogue from all!

It shows that not all CYW's are cookie cutters in their cognitive thought processing. Discussions allow us all to give a perspective that is unique to all. Like all issues professional judgement is key to rational detachment. Accepting persons as they are is key for developing therapeutic rapport. Once the rapport is established, avenues of discussion will develop to from key hooks in dealing with many deep hurts, rejection, and depression etc

CYWs should know their own ethical boundaries. When they enter into professional processing with an individual with LGBT identity issues they can develop a plan that is personal centered.

A CYW does not have to feel their own ethical values are in question when treating on sensitive issues such as this. It is not a matter of our own values vs those of the client. Both can be intact and valued.

First step to success is empathic listening. The next steps will be directed by the natural path of options a person with these challenges reveals.


Hi Steve.

I am also wondering about gaining some clarity on the question. What are the personal beliefs or values that are being weighed against professional ethics? In what capacity are you working with this youth?

Most of my focus through the last three years of my degree has been on GLBT youth (depending on who you talk to there could be almost three times as many letters!). One of the most important things to remember when working with alternative gender/sexual orientations is to accept and use whatever labels, terms, or identities your client uses. A client self-identifying as heterosexual but engaging in homosexual acts should be identified as heterosexual.

My opinion on the query about conflicting personal beliefs and professional ethics would be that as Child and Youth Care professionals we will be faced with many conflicting values. I feel it is not my place to allow my values to override my clients (barring any ethical obligations – self harm, harming others, etc).

Therefore regardless of whether the issue is based on sexual orientation, gender identity, family structure, cultural differences, or substance abuse, my values and beliefs are not my clients. I feel my best choice is to help them make healthy choices, while respecting the fact that they will live their life differently than I live mine.

Devon Schulz


Just to add my two-penceworth. A colleague of mine has just done his MSc dissertation on looked after children and young people's experiences of LGBT(Q?). He also interviewed staff and, I think management as well. He is also keen to take a number of his recommendations forward. I'm sure he would be happy to talk to anyone interested in it.

He is Mike Sutherland –

Zachari Duncalf

"Acceptance" does not mean "approval". We can accept something in someone without necessarily approving of it.

Lorraine Fox

Hi Steve

I apologize as I am not directly responding to your query but am offering information regarding an article I read last semester in my C & YC masters program. I was doing a research paper on identify concerns and supports for homosexuals in care.

Ragg, Mark D., Dennis Patrick, & Ziefert, Marjorie (2006). Slamming the door: Working with gay and lesbian youth in care. Child Welfare League of America, Vol. LXXXV, 243 – 265.

I recommend everyone have a look, as the perspective to the plight of LGBTQ youth is something we all need to be aware of to implement effective interventions for these youth.

Nova Scotia


I also wanted to add that CYC's need to develop inclusive practices for all individuals regardless of their sexual identity as we may not know the sexual identity of someone if they don't identify it to us. It is important to respect all diversities even if we do not know if we are working with a youth who identifies as not heterosexual. If we present a heterosexist bias to our clients then this may communicate to queer or questioning youth that the best and more normal way to be is straight and this is actually oppressive practices. We also have to consider that the youth may/may not be questioning but they have may friends, family members etc... that do identify as this.

Below is a link to a good resources that was developed for Early Childhood Education but has good information on creating a positive space for all individuals.

Megan Cameron

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