By the time she was 13, Robin McHaelen knew she was a lesbian, but she didn’t come out until she was in her early 30s. In the meantime she attempted suicide more than once, used drugs heavily through high school and college and felt continually depressed.

Now the executive director of True Colors Inc. in Hartford, the Connecticut native has dedicated the past 22 years to meeting the needs of sexual and gender minority youth in the Department of Children and Families (DCF) system and in the community in Connecticut. About one third of these children came into foster care explicitly because of their gender and sexuality identity, and the percentage of young people who identify as LGBT is about 20 percent, well more than double the highest estimate for the total population.

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