Child welfare advocates in several states are starting a national dialogue to help gay youths in foster care.
Federal health officials sent a letter in 2011 warning of discrimination and encouraging states to develop training for caseworkers and foster parents.
Advocates in a handful of states including Florida, California, Connecticut, Illinois and Massachusetts have increased efforts to train caseworkers, recruit foster parents and assign mentors.
Officials don't want to force youths to disclose their sexuality, but must try to create environments where they feel safe to come out when ready.
The federal government says that without such support, gay and lesbian youths who leave the foster care system can wind up homeless.