That all changed when she met Franz. Franz was 18 and had found himself in the child-welfare system after immigrating here from Indonesia and was experiencing homophobia in his current placement. Leigh realized she and Sophie could immediately give him the loving home he needed. She came home and told her (very surprised) wife of the encounter. They met Franz together, and within 30 days he was in their home.
Leigh became frustrated by the homophobic treatment and lack of support for LGBTQ youth and their families.
Leigh decided to focus her attention not just on the problem but the solution. With assistance from the Philadelphia Mayor's Office of LGBT Affairs, she formed a committee of professionals who were working around LGBT youth. In 2019, this committee ran a five-month long speaker series of experts from around the country sharing how to support LGBTQ youth in the child-welfare system. It was during this time she joined the Turning Points family as our Supervisor of Curriculum and Training Development.
This year with the tremendous support of University of Maryland School of Social Work Institute for Innovation and Implementation, Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence, Health Partners Plan, PHMC, Compass Consulting and Pennsylvania Captioned Telephone Relay Service, Leigh has expanded the series into an international Two-Day symposium (more information on side panel.)The conference has over 1,500 professionals registered from 50 states, Canada and Antigua attending to discuss and learn best practices for treating and caring for this population.
As for Leigh's family they continue to be a role model for LGBTQ families. Despite Franz having aged out of foster care, his relationship with the family has continued. He considers Leigh and Sophie's son his brother and spends all his holidays in their home. Just last week Leigh helped buy his first car.
Leigh's journey is far from over, but upon reflection she knows she's grown as a mother, an advocate, and as a professional. She continues to blaze a trail for the LGBTQ community and Turning Points for Children is proud to support the LGBTQ+ Youth Symposium.