A new Trump administration rule could hurt LGBTQ youth in foster care
November 5, 2019 1:03 PM   Subscribe

Foster care agencies could soon turn away prospective foster parents because they are gay or trans, thanks to a rule proposed by the Trump administration on Friday. The rule would remove language protecting LGBTQ people and others from discrimination in programs funded by grants from the Department of Health and Human Services, according to the Washington Post. The change would apply to a wide range of programs, including those aimed at HIV prevention and treatment for opioid addiction and other substance abuse. But advocates say it appears targeted at the child welfare system, where it could have devastating effects, including keeping children from finding homes and even funneling them into the prison system. “If you turn away a qualified, loving family that wants to open their home to a child, then you’re not placing a child,” Denise Brogan-Kator, chief policy officer of Family Equality, a group that advocates for the rights of LGBTQ families, told Vox. Because the change is broad, it would also allow programs to discriminate on the basis of religion — for example, by refusing to allow non-Christian couples to adopt or foster children. It could also allow foster care agencies to refuse to take in gay or trans youth.
The move could greatly affect LGBTQ parents and prospective parents, who are disproportionately likely to adopt or foster children. While 3 percent of different-sex parents have an adopted child, 21.4 percent of same-sex parents have adopted, according to a 2018 report.

It would also affect children, who could miss out on possible placements if agencies turn away LGBTQ families. There are more than 400,000 children in the US foster care system, including 114,000 who can’t be returned to their families and need to be adopted, the New York Times reports.

If there are fewer potential foster homes for children, more kids will live in institutional settings like shelters or residential treatment facilities, Kayee said. She spent time in both after being removed from the home she shared with her stepfather in Minnesota, where they had come as political refugees from Liberia.

At the facilities where she lived, staff used solitary confinement to punish kids, she told Vox. She was first placed in solitary at the age of eight, after refusing to let a white staff member touch her hair. The room was “freezing cold,” and she could hear mice in the walls, she said.

Kayee knew she was queer by the time she was 10 or 11, but she hid both her sexuality and her religion — she has both Muslim and Christian family members — in the facility where she lived then. She’d seen how a boy was treated when he came out: The staff “went from treating him like this angel to this infected being,” she said.

“I’d rather have them hate me because of my dark skin, than hate me because of my dark skin, plus my religion, plus my sexuality,” Kayee said she told herself at the time.

The rule change could mean LGBTQ youth like Kayee are less likely to find LGBTQ-affirming homes, which can mean the difference between being treated like a burden and being celebrated for who they are. When “you don’t see anyone that looks like you,” Kayee said, “you start to think you’re the problem.” But “being in a placement where someone not only affirms you but continues to uplift your identity, you know that, I was meant to be here.”

The rule could even allow foster care or adoption agencies to simply refuse to care for LGBTQ youth, Brogan-Kator said. Currently, when government officials remove a child from a home environment or otherwise decide that child needs foster care, they will call foster care agencies to ask if they can take the child, according to Brogan-Kator. Under the proposed rule, if the child is LGBTQ, an agency could simply say no.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis (33 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
This smells like Mike Pence’s work.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:11 PM on November 5 [38 favorites]

The move, which the Trump administration says is necessary to protect religious freedom,

Because that’s so much more important than protecting children....
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:22 PM on November 5 [18 favorites]

necessary to protect religious freedom

If you're giving away your child or have had the state take your kids away. How does ANY preference of yours hold any water at all, religious or otherwise?
posted by Dr. Twist at 1:26 PM on November 5 [8 favorites]

People who provide a service to you can choose to not provide the service if some imaginary guy, it’s always a guy, tells them that you’re not worthy of their service.
What’s wrong with this statement?
posted by njohnson23 at 1:32 PM on November 5 [1 favorite]

I support the freedom of the religious to stay the fuck out of everyone's goddamn business if they can't look outside of their shitty religion to do good in the world.
posted by GoblinHoney at 1:36 PM on November 5 [32 favorites]

[Quick note that we have Mefites who are religious, so let's please skip the overly generalized "all religion sux, lol sky wizard" type remarks. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:39 PM on November 5 [19 favorites]

its heartbreaking when religion is used to cover hate and bigotry. this is not about religion, but a trick to provide 'justification' for leaving some of the most vulnerable children in some of the worst situations. and yeah, its exactly the type of 'religious' move that people like Pence make and support. I don't even believe in any thing but I wish Jesus (or who/whatever) would return and smite some hateful bitches.
posted by supermedusa at 1:46 PM on November 5 [8 favorites]

Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
How someone gets hating gay people out of that I'll never know.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:00 PM on November 5 [31 favorites]

If you're giving away your child or have had the state take your kids away. How does ANY preference of yours hold any water at all, religious or otherwise?

This is about the religious beliefs of the organizations who assign foster/adoptive parents, not the original parents.

Except the whole thing where bigotry is not a "sincere Christian belief," since Christ was pretty clear that we're all sinners and we ought not judge others, etc.
posted by explosion at 2:01 PM on November 5 [5 favorites]

I wish I had the means to support a kid. Wish I could help.
posted by bleep at 2:01 PM on November 5 [2 favorites]

Except the whole thing where bigotry is not a "sincere Christian belief," since Christ was pretty clear that we're all sinners and we ought not judge others, etc.

I love how Jesus is like "give all your shit to the poor" and then a few years later Paul comes by with the whole "if you don't work you don't eat" schtick. Who do conservatives listen to? The not-cruel savior or the cruel second rate of Christianity.

If Jesus himself came down and ran for office in the "Bible Belt" he wouldn't make it past the Republican primary electorate.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:05 PM on November 5 [23 favorites]

It's, uh, not about religion. It's dressed in religion. But really it's fascism and nazism. It's about culling the herd of undesirables. Honing the population until it's the one true race, obedient and subservient, a hierarchy of poor to rich, woman to man, citizen to cop, cop to oligarch.

That's why saying "your religion doesn't support your actions" doesn't change the behaviour of "christian" fascists. Because religion is the rationalization they use to get the base to follow along; it's not the WHY, it's just another LIE.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:15 PM on November 5 [31 favorites]

As I supposed above, this is Pence’s doing. And it’s also a good illustration as to why Pence needs to be swept away with the same broom that (hopefully) sweeps away Trump. Pence wants no less than establishing a theocracy over the US. He’s not an insane madman like his boss, but Pence is no less dire a threat to the US.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:15 PM on November 5 [8 favorites]

When we're voting in the primary, folks should think carefully about which candidates they believe will be willing to issue a lot of executive orders to undo this stuff ASAP. We need a president who will not hold back from wielding the de facto expanded powers of the office out of "bipartisanship" or "civility". As much as I'm flat terrified of a second Trump term, I'm also worried that we'll end up electing someone who doesn't actually care much about gay people or immigrant detention etc etc etc and who will leave a lot of this stuff in place so as not to offend their more conservative "allies" in congress.

It is extremely unfortunate that we live in a time of sweeping use of executive powers. I think that's bad on the face of it. But it's the way of the world now and if we don't elect someone who will be as bold as Trump but in reverse, we're going to have all of this in place forever.
posted by Frowner at 2:28 PM on November 5 [15 favorites]

"your religion doesn't support your actions"

Any discussion about people doing wrong in the name of Christianity will always turn into a discussion about how it's not "real" Christianity. I get the motivation, especially if you're also a Christian. I want progressive Christians to reach out to other Christians - maybe a few will actually listen.

From my perspective on the outside, though, it doesn't matter who is theologically correct. I don't think that there is such a thing anyway, since all faiths change over time and none are wholly consistent. Religious beliefs just shouldn't be privileged over things like equal rights and access at all. They just aren't more important than these families. The Bible could say in 72pt font that LGBT parents should not raise children and it would still be wrong to give government money to Christian organizations that discriminate against LGBT parents.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 2:31 PM on November 5 [33 favorites]

The disturbing part of this to me is not, strictly speaking, that the agency could be Christian; it's that a nongovernmental group has any kind of charge over the placement of children who have been taken away from their families by government fiat. Private organizations having private belief systems is fine, but these aren't kids who got voluntarily put into this system by their own parents, much less by themselves. The kid can't look at the families the agency is offering and go, "No thanks, I don't like these, I'm going to check with the queer-friendly organization down the street." We are giving overtly religious organizations the right to make parenting arrangements for children who don't have parents. Letting them stand in for the government. That seems like a massive violation of the rights of the children involved and a huge preferential status accorded to certain religions, even if you force them to have official non-discriminatory policies. But... it's so much the status quo now that it's kind of hard to imagine it being challenged.
posted by Sequence at 2:46 PM on November 5 [48 favorites]

I get the motivation, especially if you're also a Christian. I want progressive Christians to reach out to other Christians - maybe a few will actually listen.

I will add that the defensive "but they're not real Christians!" comes off awfully hollow to those of us who are not ourselves Christian, and who have trauma with the actions of Christians. This particular response never seems to be addressed to the people doing this shit, but only those of us who are harmed by those people and who generalize our anger to all Christians as a result. Quit chastising everyone else for mistrusting your religion based on the actions of the loudest and the most powerful, especially when we do not see Christian leaders (with the sole exception, most of the time, of black denominations) using their position to enforce the much-touted values that liberal Christians insist that all true Christians must hold.

If they aren't real Christians, fucking tell them that. Not me.
posted by sciatrix at 3:49 PM on November 5 [48 favorites]

Is the executive branch not bound by the first amendment because the amendment speaks of Congress and not the Executive?

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"
posted by kokaku at 5:07 PM on November 5 [1 favorite]

Wait, this can't be true, I was told by some people from this particular bloc that Trump was a friend of LGBT causes and to be voted for. I am so confused. /hamburger
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:18 PM on November 5 [3 favorites]

The cruelty is the point.
posted by Reyturner at 5:29 PM on November 5 [15 favorites]

I have no problem with the idea that there are good religious people. I'm not going to advocate for any kind of witch hunt or anything.

I believe that religions provide the clearest demonstration of the principle that all human organizations act as filters that promote bigotry and ignorance to one degree or another, and that for this reason sociopaths always end up at the top of every hierarchy.

So too with christianity, regardless of how many good christians there may be. As a non-christian, I'm weary of even considering the question of who is a real christian. Doesn't that allegedly good book say something about by their works you shall know them?

Legislated morality is seldom modeled on any kind of 'good' christian thought.

I hope any families affected by this garbage, especially any kids, recognize what a poison religion really is, and reject it totally.

There is no Jesus around here.
posted by metagnathous at 6:54 PM on November 5 [14 favorites]

It was never just about cakes.
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:33 PM on November 5 [6 favorites]

I'm so, so, so very tired. It's so much happening, and so much of it feels so targeted. I watch Gay USA every week, have done for literally decades... There's so much more than this going on. The institutionalized hate is awful. The cruelty is the point.

I had so much hope for where things were going even just a few years ago. Calling my mother and friends crying and irrational after Obergefel. Feeling like maybe it was going to get easier, feel less hateful.

We can't even after decades get Congress to pass ENDA. And now there are court cases happening but court decisions aren't laws. And we have too few of the actual laws on our side.

The deliberate cruelty, though. This announcing of change in status, the public naming and saying "these are those against whom we discriminate because they are lesser"... I'm just so very tired of it.
posted by hippybear at 8:49 PM on November 5 [5 favorites]

And I always get push back in life when I say that they want is dead. Want us to suffer. So tired of proof every damn day that being queer and trans is to be hated. And yeah not my country but their my family! Against one of us, against all. Not that I didn't have tears of anger at conservative friends here who say they wouldn't really do that in Canada.

I'm tired. And angry and tired of being nice and having to hedge my words and be patient and be understanding.
posted by kanata at 10:05 PM on November 5 [13 favorites]

I guess those Log Cabin Republicans really were just unprincipled, greedy authoritarians, after all. Who knew?

(Narrator: Everybody knew.)
posted by darkstar at 5:28 AM on November 6 [2 favorites]

>If you're giving away your child

I just wanted to address this?

My sister placed her twins with a (same-sex, married) couple in an open adoption. This was the single hardest choice she ever made and I cannot even describe to you the ongoing psychological impact it has on her. And this is a best-case scenario where we are all basically thrilled with the arrangement. It's still a very sensitive subject.

All of this is to say, please don't use framing like "gave up your kids" - this is a terrible way to describe adoption writ large. There are many roads that lead here, and it is a monumentally consequential, life-changing decision no matter what.

PS the discriminating parties in this story would be the adoption agencies themselves, not individual parents, anyway
posted by captain afab at 6:53 AM on November 6 [20 favorites]

I often find it a more painful jab as a gay person to feel like the straight people in my life empathize with my personal stories, but anything not happening directly to me is still an abstraction. I don't plan to have children, and I have a hard time getting across how painful this is even when it doesn't affect my gay life personally. I don't know how to get it across. And yes, I'm sure this is designed to make sure LGBTQ children have even less of a chance to see successful LGBTQ families as they grow up.
posted by nakedmolerats at 8:48 AM on November 6 [11 favorites]

Is the executive branch not bound by the first amendment because the amendment speaks of Congress and not the Executive?

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

I think you can expect the administration's lawyers make this argument (among other arguments), should this go into effect and is challenged in court.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:55 AM on November 6 [1 favorite]

This is truly vile. I can't think of a more vulnerable and helpless population than kids in foster care. Their lot is difficult enough.
posted by Edgewise at 9:12 AM on November 6 [6 favorites]

Anyone who thinks they're going to stop short of turning us into a carbon copy of Russia with regard to LGBT (and many other) rights is absolutely fucking delusional. This is just one of many rollbacks we're going to see coming down the pipe. And when they've rolled it all back, they're going to go on the offensive by passing the same kind of anti-LGBT speech laws they did there, shutting down pride parades, etc. I mean, I hope they won't get away with all of it (though I'm not optimistic that they won't get away with a whole lot of it), but I have absolutely no doubt that's the intention.
posted by treepour at 11:33 AM on November 6 [9 favorites]

I hate this fucking timeline. Just plain hate it.

There is absolutely no reason on Earth or anywhere else to leave children languishing in the system when the only thing you find fault with in a prospective adoptive family is their sexuality or gender identity/presentation. Adoption is not about religion, it's about getting children into loving families where they can grow and thrive.

Did I mention that I hate this timeline? I hate this timeline.
posted by MissySedai at 3:21 PM on November 6 [5 favorites]

Some years ago, whilst I was contracting and away from my wife and family during the week, I was lodging with an older lady. I came down to breakfast one morning to find her dead on the floor. That kind of left me with nowhere to stay for a few days as there were no hotels or such available at that time.
One of the chaps at work offered me a room to use until I could arrange elsewhere.
It turned out that he and the rest of the household were a gay community (unknown to the work people).
I have to say that they were the most open and friendly people I have ever met, and we had plenty of discussions about both sides of the coin -so to speak. There was no attempt at "conversion" by either side.
posted by Burn_IT at 4:21 PM on November 6 [2 favorites]

Religious rights end at the secular right to be left the fuck alone.
posted by Pouteria at 5:32 AM on November 7 [2 favorites]

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