Kenneth Jones should have been an easy foster kid to place: Decent grades, no criminal record, and he even liked doing chores. Just one problem: He’s gay. Mother Jones relays Kenneth’s story in a long piece exploring the problems the foster care system has: According to one study, nearly all LGBT and questioning kids in group homes were verbally harassed; 70% were subjected to violence, and 78% either ran away or were removed from a placement.
Stories like Kenneth’s are far from rare. In Florida, one gay youth went through 48 placements in four years; in Connecticut, one church performed violent exorcisms on gay children—but many are still with their biological families because it’s so difficult to find anywhere else to place them: One survey of 246 foster families found only 21 that would take a gay teen. For Kenneth, after enduring years of being taunted or outright threatened in various homes, he finally decided on a sex change operation: “I'm getting really tired,” he says. “I don't have no other options left.”
(Read more foster care stories.)