There are more than 400,000 youth in foster care. But, foster care and adoption agencies turn away qualified, loving parents because of who they are, who they love, or what they believe–all in the name of religious freedom.
For example, a Christian agency could deny adoption by qualified Jewish parents (which has recently become the subject of a lawsuit in Tennessee), and a Jewish agency could deny adoption by qualified Christian parents. An agency could refuse to allow a gay or transgender extended family member to adopt an orphaned child. And an agency could refuse to place an LGBTQ+ child with accepting parents and instead place them with parents who intend to force them into harmful conversion therapy. These aren’t merely hypotheticals. There are countless children and families who have experienced religiously motivated discrimination in the child welfare system.
Too many foster children spend years in the system without finding a forever home. Yet, same-sex couples are seven times more likely to foster and adopt than opposite-sex couples and are more likely to foster and adopt hard-to-place children like large sibling groups, older children, and children with disabilities. Turning away qualified LGBTQ+ foster and adoptive parents limits the pool of homes available and harms kids in care.
The 1 in 3 foster children who identify as LGBTQ experience higher rates of mistreatment, long stays in residential care rather than with families, and higher rates of homelessness, being trafficked, and criminal justice system involvement.
As humanists, we refuse to stand idly by. That’s why the American Humanist Association has joined a collective week-of-action with child advocacy, LGBTQ+, faith, and civil rights groups to raise our voices and demand Congress take action and support the John Lewis Every Child Deserves a Family Act. This important piece of legislation would:
- prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, and marital status against families and youth in taxpayer-funded child welfare services;
- require culturally competent care for youth and families of color and youth and families who are disabled, religious minorities, or LGBTQ+;
- bar conversion therapy in foster care;
- require data collection on LGBTQ+ youth and families; and
- establish a National Resource Center for LGBTQ+ youth in foster care within the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Fulton v. The City of Philadelphia, which was technically narrow to the specifics of the case, but still devastating, it’s clear that the courts have relinquished their responsibility to our Constitution. Some of our country’s most vulnerable kids pay the price each day, so we need Congress to act.
Please help us ensure that no taxpayer-funded foster or adoption agency can use their religious beliefs to prevent a child from finding a loving home and contact your Congress members now. (Reaching out to elected officials is easy through our online Humanist Action Headquarters. It truly only takes two minutes.)
Each child deserves a loving and supportive home. Each child deserves culturally competent care that respects their identities and specific circumstances. Each child deserves the opportunity to flourish. Faith should never be allowed to stand in the way of that.