Some congressional Republicans are flaming mad about a proposed federal rule requiring child welfare agencies to place LGBTQ foster youths in environments “free of hostility, mistreatment, or abuse” that are based on the child’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression.
As a result, these GOP members have introduced or sponsored legislation that would outlaw elements of the Department of Health and Human Services’ proposal, according to The Hill.
The proposed rule, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services in September, also would require caregivers to undergo cultural competency training to ensure LGBTQ foster youths are placed in homes where their identities are affirmed.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement when it was released that the proposal puts “children’s well-being first.”
But some nonreligious and children’s rights organizations have been critical of the proposal, saying it does not go far enough because it allows people who do not support LGBTQ identities to become foster parents, according to The Hill.
The Hill article outlines several Republicans who have introduced or supported bills that would block the Department of Health and Human Services’ proposed rule.
- Indiana Rep. Jim Banks’ Sensible Adoption for Every Home Act, HR 6658, would prevent foster and adoptive families from being required to affirm a transgender child’s gender identity.
- Banks, in a statement to Fox News, said the bill was drafted in response to the Department of Health and Human Services’ proposal. He said it discriminates against prospective caretakers that are “opposed to irreversible sex change procedures on kids.”
LGBTQ rights advocates have denounced the Indiana congressman and his bill, saying it misrepresents the proposed rule from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Other Republicans claim that the proposed rule from the Department of Health and Human Services would discriminate against faith-based providers.
- A bill filed in the House and Senate in November by Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Kelly and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, a former GOP presidential candidate, would ban government agencies from requiring that child welfare agencies find caregivers who affirm a child’s gender identity or sexual orientation. The duo introduced identical legislation in 2019 and 2021.
- SB 3344, the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, is sponsored by 17 Republicans.
Supporters of the proposal say the need is based on data showing LGBTQ foster youth are overrepresented in the child welfare system.
- Lesbian, gay, and bisexual children are more than twice as likely to experience foster care placement compared with their heterosexual peers, according to a 2019 study.
- Approximately 30% of foster youth identify as LGBTQ, according to the Children’s Bureau, the federal agency responsible for overseeing the child welfare system.
- About 5% of foster youth identify as transgender, according to the Children’s Bureau.
Compared with their cisgender and heterosexual peers, LGBTQ children and adolescents in the child welfare system are more likely to report poor treatment related to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Approximately 38% LGBTQ foster youths in Los Angeles reported poor treatment connected to their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, according to a 2014 study.
Numerous states have laws on the books to protect LGBTQ foster youth.
- Washington, D.C., and 28 states have explicit laws or policies to protect LGBTQ youths in foster care from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the Movement Advancement Project, a nonprofit organization that tracks LGBTQ laws
- Six states prohibit discrimination based only on sexual orientation, according to the Movement Advancement Project.
- But in 13 states, child welfare agencies are allowed to refuse to place and provide services to children and families — including LGBTQ people and same-sex couples — if doing it conflicts with their religious beliefs, according to the Movement Advancement Project.