Family Protection Project
NCLR’s Family Protection Project improves access to family law services for low-income same-sex parent families, with a focus on families of color. The project provides legal information to low-income LGBT parents and their children; trains and provides free technical assistance to attorneys providing free and low-cost services to these families; advocates for laws that provide automatic protections for LGBT parents and their children; and works in coalition with organizations serving communities of color to provide culturally competent services to families of color.
Children with same-sex parents often do not have a legal relationship to at least one of their parents. As a result, they can be denied social security benefits or can end up in foster care if their legal parent dies or is incarcerated. In almost every state, LGBT families can take affirmative steps to protect their parent-child relationships, but these steps require the aid of an attorney and are thus out of reach for many families.
Currently, there are very few programs that are focused on providing free legal services specifically for LGBT parents. Because this is a rapidly changing area of law, it is especially important for legal services and pro bono attorneys to have access to support services. Studies have shown that on average, same-sex parents with children earn $10,000 less than married couples with children, and the percentage of LGBT families living in poverty is similar to the general population.
NCLR's Family Protection Project supports and expands free and low-cost family law services for low-income same-sex parent families to enable these families to take steps to protect their parent-child relationships.
Resource Kit for Serving LGBT Clients
This kit was created to assist organizations providing legal services and pro bono referrals and includes materials for LGBT clients and their advocates.
order a free resource kit
Parents Who Are LGBT, Same-Gender Loving, or Two Spirit: Protect Your Rights!
A brochure for LGBT parents about how to protect their rights. (English and Spanish)
Si Eres Padre De Familia Y LGBT O Tienes Una Relación Con Una Persona Del Mismo Sexo: ¡Protege Tus Derechos!
Una guía informative para padres de familias LGBT sobre cómo proteger sus derechos (Español e Inglés)
Tips for legal advocates working with LGBT clients
The Family Protection Project helps legal services organizations to gain the specialized knowledge that is necessary to adequately serve LGBT people and their families. As a part of this effort, the Family Protection Project, in partnership with California Rural Legal Assistance’s Proyecto Poderoso, created a tip sheet for legal advocates working with LGBT clients.
Serving Low-Income LGBT Parents and LGBT Parents of Color
This tip sheet was created to help LGBT organizations and attorneys better serve low-income LGBT people.
Family Protection Project Flyer
The Family Protection Project helps legal services organizations and pro bono attorneys gain the specialized knowledge that is necessary to adequately serve LGBT families. NCLR offers trainings and reference materials for attorneys on LGBT family law in targeted states. Additionally, we provide technical assistance to attorneys who are representing low income clients and helps low-income LGBT families find your services through our toll-free national helpline.
National LGBT Legal Aid Forum
The National LGBT Legal Aid Forum is a new listserv dedicated to improving legal services for low-income LGBT clients. This listserv is a forum for members to post questions and answers related to serving LGBT clients, and to share resources and updates on new developments in LGBT-related law. Legal aid advocates who are committed to effectively advocating for LGBT people and their families are invited to apply for membership. Attorneys from national, state and regional LGBT legal organizations who wish to communicate directly with a community of LGBT-supportive legal aid advocates are also invited to apply.
The Forum’s members include advocates with expertise in various aspects of LGBT-related law, including, but not limited to family, employment, health, immigration and domestic violence law. Legal aid advocates with no prior experience serving LGBT clients, but who wish to build their knowledge base and access related information, are also welcome. This listserv is administered by California Rural Legal Assistance and the National Center for Lesbian Rights with guidance and support from a committee of attorneys from New York Legal Assistance Group, Lambda Legal and Legal Services of Northern California.
Family Protection Project Director Cathy Sakimura joined NCLR's staff as an Equal Justice Works Fellow in 2006. Her project is to improve access to family law services for low-income same-sex parent families, with a focus on families of color. She received her J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law in 2006. During law school, she worked with Legal Services for Children, the ACCESS Self-Help Center of the San Francisco Superior Court, and NCLR. Prior to law school, she worked at Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere, organizing programs for children of same-sex parents. She was also the Program Director at Gay-Straight Alliance Network, where she empowered young people to combat harassment in their schools and participated in a multi-organization project linking work against homophobia with work against racism.