Documentary (2011) ~ Color
Synopsis: AMERICA’S MOST UNWANTED, the newest short-form documentary from award-winning filmmaker Shani Heckman, reveals untold stories of homophobia in the foster care system in the countrys most gay-friendly state: California. California is also one of the first states to pass the Foster Care Achievement Act and A.B.21, which will allow foster youth access to care until age 21. For decades, policy changes are making life better for foster youth, but as bullying campaigns across the country have shown, life needs to be improved for LGBT youth at all levelsour hope is this film can help with this step.
LGBTQ foster youth are often kicked out of their homes for defining as LGBTQ and then enter state-sanctioned homes that treat them even worse: 75% of LGBTQI foster youth in state care had experienced physical abuse, 66% preferred to live on the streets CWLA, 2007. AMERICA’S MOST UNWANTED lends the case for more access to LGBT foster parenting and adoption by providing a human face these three youth whose lives would have benefited from such support. Connor was in foster care since age 7 and used education achievement to survive. Savi too entered the system at age 7, stifled by a learning disability and presenting as an out queer, Savi experiences difficulties fitting and has 52 different foster care placements in 10 years. Teruko signed herself into foster care at age 17 after more than a decade of difficulties living with a drug-addicted mother and life in Hunters Point. Teruko also uses education to help herself, entering University of California Berkeley as a fresh-person. Valerie, was born into orphanages and lived in foster homes and on the streets until she entered the prison system at age 15 as an adult. Turning her life around completely, Valerie is a successful published author of six books, a former international journalist and a mentor and teacher of Buddhism. Together, they represent a nexus of challenges facing foster youth in America today: economic and academic inequities, homophobia in the system, threats of homelessness, drug addiction, life in and out of prison, and how self preservation and personal well-being can enable youth to overcome unfathomable challenges.