Wednesday, November 29, 2023

18 Republican attorney generals want to weaponize religious beliefs against LGBTQ foster children

Seems to me that if there had to be a choice between the rights and welfare of LGBTQ foster kids versus the religious beliefs of potential foster parents, the rights and welfare of LGBTQ foster kids should win. Too bad 18 Republican attorney generals don't think so.

From LGBTQ Nation

Eighteen Republican attorneys general have signed a letter opposing a proposed rule from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that would require foster care agencies to place LGBTQ+ minors with foster care providers who will respect their identities. Agencies that don’t would lose federal funding.  The attorneys say the rule will infringe on providers’ religious liberty, arguing that trying to get LGBTQ+ kids into affirming homes harms religious conservatives’ rights to impose their views on kids.

The HHS Administration for Children and Families’ proposed rule is meant to “address the extensively documented risk factors and adverse outcomes” that LGBTQ+ children in foster care often experience, the department wrote. LGBTQ+ kids in foster care have experienced higher levels of misgendering, bullying, abuse, forced isolation from other kids, inability to access LGBTQ+-affirming resources, and placement into so-called “conversion therapy” programs that aim to change their sexual orientation and gender identity, HHS wrote. 

Such mistreatment has been linked to an increased risk of depression, suicide, homelessness, food insecurity, illegal drug use, and other serious health risks. The rule requires agencies and providers to offer training materials that aid in caring for an LGBTQ+ child’s cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral well-being. Agencies and providers must have review systems in place to house kids in safe, supportive environments.

 . . .  The 18 Republican attorneys general who oppose the proposal, led by Jonathan Skrmetti of Tennessee, claim that the new rule will hinder agencies from finding care providers for foster kids in need and drive dedicated care providers out of the system. The attorneys also say the rule goes “far beyond [HHS’s] statutory authority,” violates constitutional rights, and contradicts state bans on gender-affirming care for transgender youth (many of which have been blocked by courts). 

 . . .  The letter claims that Tennessee and other states have determined that gender-affirming care is “unproven and unsafe,” even though its methods have been used safely for decades and are deemed safe, effective, and essential by all major medical associations. The letter also claims that the new rule will lead to the persecution of religious families who restrict minors’ access to LGBTQ+-affirming media, social groups, and medical care. 

 However, the HHS’ proposed rule specifically says that it “would not require that every provider become designated as a safe and appropriate placement for LGBTQI+ children.”