Child welfare policy must always be driven by what is in the best interest of children. This means encouraging policies that reflect our society’s diversity and supporting children, youth and families who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ), as well as prospective parents who are single, unmarried couples, and children or families of varied religious or non-religious belief systems.

Legislation in both houses of Congress described as attempts to promote religious freedom would undermine the best interest of children and punish states that seek to prevent discrimination against children and families. Such attempts should be rejected.

What Is Happening?

Last month, the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations approved the Aderholt Amendment, which would impose a 15% reduction of child welfare funding on state and local governments that do not allow child welfare providers the option to decline services to people whose circumstances or beliefs “conflict with the provider’s sincerely held beliefs or moral convictions.” Similar language has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.

It is never acceptable to use federal funds to discriminate based on religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, family structure or marital status. At a time when there is a shortage of foster and adoptive homes in nearly every state in the country, allowing child welfare agencies to close the door to willing and fully qualified foster and adoptive families based on differences in religious beliefs deprives vulnerable children of safe and loving homes. 

Further, many LGBTQ youth report conflict or discrimination by foster parents and child welfare agencies, resulting in higher numbers of failed placements and more challenges to permanency. These disparities in outcomes affect their physical and mental health, and they are five times more likely to attempt suicide as compared to heterosexual youth. LGBTQ families are especially qualified to provide safe, stable and identity-affirming homes to LGBTQ youth. Allowing agencies to put their religious beliefs ahead of the best interest of the child leads to poor placement options, further harming vulnerable children.

How Can I Help?

Legislation with language veiled in supporting religious freedom must be rejected when it is used to violate anti-discrimination law, cause harm to protected groups or allow federal dollars to advance a discriminatory agenda. We must encourage policy makers to:

  • Support policies and regulations barring discrimination, and protect the rights of all qualified parents who offer welcoming and loving homes to the youth needing them.
  • Value all of our children and families by rejecting the Aderholt Amendment and any legislation that punishes states for seeking to prevent discrimination.
    • Call or email your legislators! Look up your senators and representatives. You can also contact the leadership in both the Senate and the House
    • Tweet and post Facebook messages to your representatives and senators as well. Don't forget to use the hashtag  #AderholtAmendment.

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