07/14 2050 CARE HOME OPENS FOR YOUNG GAYS 19-Jul-94 21:42 England ?

19-Jul-94 21:42

By Linda Jackson

A residential home staffed by lesbians and gays has opened for 
homosexual teenagers and is hoping to expand, it emerged 

The establishment, which plans to offer places to children as 
young as 13, is believed to be the first of its kind in Britain.

The opening of Pride Place in Birmingham sparked outrage with 
councillors and others demanding its closure.

It aims to offer support to gay problem teenagers, bullied in 
council care homes because of their sexuality.

The home is believed to have three places. But a few weeks ago 
it applied to Birmingham City Council to be registered as a 
six-bedroom home.

Staff say it is designed for gay young people who have been 
through the care system and have a history of victimisation.

"By the time young people reach us, they arrive with a sorry 
attitude about themselves and society," said team leader Gerry 
Want in an interview with Community Care, a weekly magazine for 
social workers.

Terry Beavington, one of the project's managers, said the mixed 
staff included people who could act as role models.

"We are here, we are `out' and in authority and that is what is 
mainly lacking in the statutory and voluntary sectors."

 Young people did not make public their homosexuality because 
they did not feel safe, he told the magazine.

"On the street these people may get involved in risky 
situations because it is the only way to express themselves 
sexually or have contact with the gay scene and also, it is a 
means of survival."

Staff feel they have more chance of helping residents cope with 
their problems if their sexuality is no longer a major issue.

Tory councillor Graham Green, Birmingham City Council's 
opposition social services spokesman, said: "How can children 
so young be expected to know whether they really are gay?

"Even kids who have a loving family are too young to make this 
crucial decision.

"Confused teenagers in care who have often been sexually or 
physically abused certainly cannot be expected to make such a 
decision with confidence." mfws is to write to ministers 
demanding that social services departments are told not to send 
teenagers to Pride Place.

"I was horrified to learn of this home," he said. "I can't 
believe anyone would suggest that such young children should be 
earmarked as gay or lesbian and be put into a separate care 

"If we get politically correct groups trying to push these 
children they may well come to believe they are gay.

"I want social services departments to be told to avoid 
referring children to Pride Place. They belong in normal care 
homes, not specialised ones that may push them into the gay 

Triangle Courses and Resources, based in Moseley, Birmingham, 
applied under the name Pride Place to the city council for a 
registration certificate to allow it to house more children.

Homes with less than three residents do not need to be 
registered with the council's social services department.

But because Pride Place wants to fill six beds, it is required 
under the Children Act to apply for registration.

Social services officials are deciding whether to grant an 
application after checking the property, its location, 
facilities and staffing.

Council vetting procedures include chasing up references and 
checking the Department of Health Consultancy list which 
includes those involved in or suspected of inappropriate 
behaviour with children.

Checks are also made on night cover, the planned day-to-day 
management, experience of staff and fire precautions.

Zac Webber, of West Midlands Gay and Lesbian Switchboard, said: 
"I don't know what the fuss is about.

"Pride Place does not encourage a particular lifestyle but 
provides an environment where being gay is not a problem."

A council spokeswoman confirmed it received a registration 
application for a children's home.

"We have a legal obligation to consider this application and 
will do so, mindful of the desirability of the application and 
the criteria which must be met."