Traditional Advocacy for Nontraditional Youth: Rethinking Best Interest for the Queer Child

62 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2009

Date Written: April 9, 2009


This Article argues that attorneys representing queer children-those children who either self identify or are perceived by others as being a sexual minority or who do not conform to normative gender roles-must provide traditional zealous advocacy to their queer child clients. The heterosexism that pervades our culture infects our families, schools, courts, and child welfare systems, often with disastrous results for queer kids. Unfortunately, these biases also afflict attorneys who represent this population, tainting their ability to represent their clients in a conscientious, ethical, and effective manner. Given the extreme danger queer children face when they are entangled in the legal system, it is important to ensure that the attorneys representing them do not exacerbate the risks they face. The necessity for traditional advocacy is not dependent on the age of the child, the type of proceeding, or the sensibilities of the individual lawyer. Any advocacy model allowing an attorney to substitute his or her own judgment as to what is in a queer child's best interest is potentially devastating for queer child clients and must not continue. This Article concludes with a model rule, which would prohibit all but traditional representation for queer children.

Keywords: law guardian, children's attorney, queer, gay and lesbian, ethics, advocacy, children, juvenile rights

Suggested Citation

Valentine, Sarah, Traditional Advocacy for Nontraditional Youth: Rethinking Best Interest for the Queer Child (April 9, 2009). Michigan State Law Review, Vol. 2008, p. 1053, April 2009. Available at SSRN:

Sarah Valentine (Contact Author)

CUNY School of Law ( email )

2 Court Square
Long Island City, NY 11101
United States

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