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Sunday, May 19, 2024
Gov & Politics

Under new law in Tennessee, anti-LGBTQ couples can’t be denied ability to foster/adopt

The new law allowing anti-LGBTQ couples to foster or adopt could endanger already traumatized children in the system.

Editor: I think I should preface my commentary by admitting that I’ve often talked about the fact that a person is required to go through background checks, home visits, landlord agreements, previous adoption history, and character references to adopt a dog from the SPCA, yet there are people in this world that foster kids solely for the extra money. There are also people that purposefully (or maybe not on purpose, I’ve never been able to understand this) have children even though they torture, abuse, and want nothing to do with loving and nurturing them. Not only is this a reason abortion needs to be legal (having kids they don’t want leads to resentment and abuse, or they end up in foster care with high risks of physical and sexual abuse, leading to mentally and emotionally damaged adults. Not to mention a childhood that no kid should go through, but we also need to do better with looking out for kids already in the foster care system.

Preface completed, I think Tennessee is doing great harm to children in the system. Would they allow a White couple that are KKK members—that say African Americans should still be slaves or hung—to foster or adopt an African American child? Okay, yes, I’m being a little over the top here, but there is no way to know the sexuality of a 2-year-old, and I doubt older kids in the system are going to be shouting it from the rooftops. So you are now going to allow a couple who thinks members of the LGBTQ community are sinners and could possibly be so extreme as to call them “filth” (as I heard from a “man of God” recently) to adopt or foster a child who might not be cisgender? Taking a child who likely already feels abandoned and putting them in a home with parents who might damage them further by shaming them or kicking them out just sounds insane to me. Now, please don’t respond with the statistical probability of a child being gay, it’s not my point that it’ll happen to every bigoted couple, it’s my point that it could happen…once. There are actual nut jobs that are anti-LGBTQ out there that would send their children to de-programming facilities which are essentially torture camps.

I know what I’m saying is pretty radical and hyperbolic to some people, but my main point is that I don’t think anyone that has any hatred for others should be given the responsibility of raising a child (or the opportunity), Having your own child is your right, that no one has control over, but when there is an opportunity to choose great parents for a child, I don’t think bigots are the best choice.

Here is an article by Anita Wadhwani, reporter for ‘Tennessee Lookout’ to provide more details about this bill.

Tennessee foster care and adoptive parents won’t be required to affirm or accept a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity under a GOP-backed bill heading for a vote on the House and Senate floors.

The proposed Tennessee Foster and Adoptive Parent Protection Act would prohibit the Department of Children’s Services from excluding parents who want to foster or adopt a child based on the parents’ moral or religious objections to LGBTQ identity.

It “does not preclude the department from considering the religious or moral beliefs of an adoptive or foster child, or their family of origin” — qualifying language in the bill that falls short of requiring the agency to do so.

Dickson Republican Rep. Mary Littleton said the bill was intended to lead to better matches between parents and children needing loving homes and would expand the pool of willing foster families. Tennessee currently faces a shortage of foster homes. More parents may step forward to become foster parents if they do not have to compromise their deeply held beliefs, according to Littleton.

“This bill aims to protect the moral and religious beliefs of adoptees and foster parents,” Littleton said during a House Civil Justice Committee hearing Wednesday. Sen. Paul Rose, a West Tennessee Republican, is co-sponsor.

“This bill does not disregard the values and beliefs of the child,” she said, noting DCS can decide whether or not to place children in a specific home based on “a comprehensive list of factors.”

LGBTQ and child legal advocates strongly oppose the measure, noting that nothing in the bill’s language prevents LGBTQ children from being placed with any prospective parent, even those parents who may wish to ignore or denigrate a child’s identity — or seek to change it.

Nanette Clark, a Nashville attorney who has served as a court-appointed child guardian and special judge in Davidson County Juvenile Court, said the bill could lead to additional trauma for LGBTQ kids in state custody — who by definition have faced abuse or neglect before being taken from their own families.

“When you require DCS to place an LGBTQ child in a placement that will refuse to support their sexual identity, not only are you creating additional adverse childhood experiences and trauma, you’re creating situations where children will find a way to escape that placement, either through running way, a suicide attempt or making false allegations against the foster parents or adoptive parents,” she said. “They will find a way to escape that situation.”

LGBTQ kids are disproportionately represented in foster care across the nation, with some studies suggesting that up to a third of all foster youth identify as LBGTQ — often winding up in state custody as result of mistreatment or rejection based on their gender identity, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Current DCS foster care guidelines, published by the federal government, show that the Tennessee is one of approximately 39 states that provide explicit protections from harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Children coming into state custody may not be old enough to articulate their gender identity or sexual orientation — or willing to share personal information with caseworkers, Cathryn Oakley, senior director of legal policy for Human Rights Campaign, told lawmakers during a Senate hearing on the bill Tuesday.

“Sexual orientation and gender identity isn’t necessarily something a very young child is going to have the words to be able to articulate…..and if they stay with that family for a period of time they still deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” she said.

Oakley warned lawmakers that Tennessee could also risk federal funding by adopting the law.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last year proposed new rules for “safe and appropriate placement” of LGBTQI+ youth in state foster care systems, rules that go further than current DCS LGBTQ-affirming policies.

Among the proposed rules are that foster homes “establish an environment free of hostility, mistreatment, or abuse based on the child’s LGBTQI+ status” and “facilitate the child’s access to age-appropriate resources, services, and activities that support their health and well-being” if the child wishes, including gender affirming medical care, currently barred by Tennessee law.

In November, Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti, joined by counterparts in 16 other states, publicly opposed the rules, saying they would shrink the pool of available foster families willing to care for kids. (Editor: which I say is better than placing them in a hateful anti-LGBTQ home)

The proposed rules, Skrmetti wrote, would also “further divert resources away from protecting foster children from physical abuse and toward enforcing compliance with controversial gender ideology.”

This article in this post was originally published on Tennessee Lookout and parts of it are included here under a Creative Commons license CC BY-ND 4.0

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