New Law Could Legalize Discrimination Against LGBTQ Youth And Families In Adoption/Foster Care

Right wing authorities want to make it OK for agencies to receive funding, regardless of their "moral convictions".

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What makes a child eligible for foster care or adoption? What makes a family suitable to care for a child in need? State officials are seeking to pass a law that will make it legal for adoption and foster care agencies to deny services to LGBTQ youth and families.

Vice reports, “a federal bill introduced this April, the Child Welfare Inclusion Act of 2017, could make it much harder for LGBTQ kids to get adopted. If passed, the legislation could allow adoption and foster care agencies to claim religious or moral objections to fostering LGBTQ youth or providing for LGBTQ couples looking to adopt.”

The bill is sponsored by Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Representative Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania. According to Kelly, agencies should continue to receive government funding, regardless of their “deeply-rooted religious beliefs.”

Some say this bill could actually be a good thing for LGBTQ kids in the system. Youth could be saved from placement with a family that does not accept their sexuality or gender identity. Civil rights organization Lambda Legal estimates that a quarter of the 400,000 homeless children nationally are LGBTQ, many of which entered the system after being rejected by their families.

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“All types of families come into the [foster care] system. Every faith, race, and background. You have to have a system in place to serve everybody equally because you are serving a representation of our entire country,” explained Currey Cook to Vice. Cook is the director of Lambda Legal‘s Youth in Out-of-Home Care Project. “There are amazing churches and communities that support LGBT people. Bills like these are pitting communities of faith against others.”

Keeping youth in the system isn’t just hard on the kids, it’s expensive. The New York State Office of Children and Family Services reported in 2010 that estimated annual state and federal costs for one child in foster care can be up to $29,000. One of the ways to mitigate these costs is to find more stable adoptive homes.

A 2013 report by the Williams Institute reported: “same-sex couples are four times more likely than heterosexual couples to be raising an adopted child and six times more likely to be raising a foster child.” Preventing same-sex couples from becoming care providers means that fewer kids will find homes.

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