Florida does right by LGBT foster kids.

We’ve got a lot of names to take in today’s Friday Files — including a well-known quarterback, a lesser-known Pokemon and a whole slew of politicians.

But first, some props to Gov. Rick Scott‘s Department of Children and Families.

Earlier this year, DCF was poised to do take some ugly — and dangerous — actions affecting gay and transgender kids in foster care, basically giving a greenlight to group homes that wanted to bully the kids or even try to change their sexual orientation.

The public’s general reaction was: What is wrong with you people?

Seriously, you don’t have to have marched in a pride parade to know that it’s twisted to allow bullying or brainwashing.

Originally, the state acted fine. DCF’s original proposed guidelines banned group homes from allowing the “harassment or bullying of children” based on “gender expression” or “sexual orientation” and from trying to change any youth’s sexual orientation.

But then, after a handful of religious leaders objected, state officials removed all of those protections.

It was an odd and ugly thing to do. And not surprisingly, a lot of people objected — Republican, Democrats, child advocates and more. I was certainly among them and encouraged readers to contact state officials.

Well, as of last week, DCF made a 180, putting all those protections back in. What’s more, DCF Secretary Mike Carroll went a step further, calling for a full-time ombudsman to probe complaints of discrimination from any child in the foster system.

It’s one thing for adults to wage ideological wars against each other. But everyone can agree that protecting some of the state’s most vulnerable and already-neglected kids from further trauma is a bipartisan no-brainer.

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Alexia Nechayev

FYS Events & Meeting Chair
(Palm Beach)

Hello, My name is Alexia Nechayev. I am 25 years old and I am an alumna of Florida International University where I received my B.A. in Psychology. My future career goal is to be a Lawyer. I was in care for about one year from age 17 to 18. Prior to entering care, I only knew about the negative stigma regarding foster care and while in care that narrative was unfortunately my experience.

In school I felt like I was on display because my status in care was broadcast to other students and in my placement behavior was leveraged for “privileges” that should be a natural right of all children. Because I did not know my rights I did not know that what I was experiencing was wrong. Today this is exactly why I advocate, because I don’t want this to be the same for other youth who are experiencing foster care.

This is my second year on the FYS Statewide Board and I’m happy to be the Events and Meetings Chair this year because my main goal through advocacy is to reach as many people as possible. My favorite thing as a board member is to see how comfortable members become while working together. The community needs to know that youth in foster care are real people, going through some of the hardest moments of their life and youth need to know that their voice is powerful. I believe that we have to speak up and bring these issues to people’s attention so that they do not forget us. Advocacy, education and consistency is the only way.

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