On August 17th, Child and Family Policy Bureau announced to Child Welfare Divisions all over Japan that new guidelines for LGBTQ kids in foster home will take into effect.
In childcare facilities, the number of LGBTQ children who have difficulties different from other children has been on the rise and childcare specialists sometimes face situations which are difficult to approach with old-fashioned guidelines. The new guidelines will help officials and staff working in childcare fields have better awareness of sexual minority and ask them to achieve better understanding of LGBTQ kids among childcare facilities and foster parents. Child and Family Policy Bureau also asks them to read LGBTQ guidelines for school teachers, which are made by Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
In April of this year, a gay couple living in Osaka City, became foster parents for the first time in Japan, but many concerns whether LGBTQ children are able to live safely in foster home and whether appropriate measures are taken by facility staff who have good understanding of LGBTQ remain unanswered.
Rainbow Foster Care, a nonprofit organization that has worked for long to raise awareness of LGBTQ in childcare fields in Japan, conducted a national survey in corporation with university researchers in order to make concrete plans that will promote different approaches for LGBTQ children.
According to the survey, almost half of the childcare facilities answered that they currently or used to take care of LGBTQ children in their facilities. Those facilities seem to have difficulty accepting transgender children because they can’t afford to make another living facility or because they have difficulty explaining gender identity and sexual orientation to other children and their parents. Some people pointed out that the awareness of sexual diversity among childcare staff is so low that they end up making it difficult for LGBTQ children to openly come out. On the other hand, some facilities reported that they asked local schools not to force transgender children to wear a skirt and the transgender children started talking to facility staff more openly after that.
In addition, about the half of the facilities answered that they do not have LGBTQ seminars for their staff and some of the staff have no knowledge about sexual minority. It is difficult for them to explain gender identity and sexual orientation to other children and their parents. “What children need varies place to place. It’s necessary for us to make our own guidelines for LGBTQ foster children and we expect everyone in childcare fields to take seminars and follow the guidelines,” said Megumi Fuji, the representative of Rainbow Foster Care.
Major newspaper companies and NHK covered this news. On June 13th, Noriko Furuta, a Japanese politician of the New Komeito Party, answered that they will hold national conferences and assure all the people related to child care are aware of the new guidelines.
On June 16th, a supplementary resolution was passed and more efforts will be taken in order to find better ways to deal with LGBTQ foster children and make new guidelines.
In addition, “Planing Conference for Social Support for Raising a Child” released “New Visions for Social Support for Raising a Child.” It says “No discrimination against LGBTQ children should be tolerated and it is essential for foster parents and staff working in childcare facilities to acquire knowledge and skills to deal with those children appropriately.” Following this, Child and Family Policy Bureau seem to have announced the new guidelines.
There are a lot more issues to be solved in Japan, but this is a big step to improve the environments surrounding LGBTQ foster children suffering from their own sexual orientation and isolation from friends.