In a robust response to the Biden administration's recent policy proposals concerning identity politics, 19 state attorneys general, alongside various conservative and religious groups, have taken a stand to defend religious liberty and the integrity of established child adoption services.
This action challenges a contentious proposal by the Biden administration, which critics argue could undermine religious freedom within foster care systems and exacerbate the existing shortage of foster families. The contentious proposal, titled "Safe and Appropriate Foster Care Placement Requirements," is a directive from the Administration for Children and Families, part of the Department of Health and Human Services.
It reflects a broader trend on the political left focusing on s*xual behaviors and identities. The rule would prevent states from collaborating with child adoption agencies, predominantly faith-based, that do not conform to progressive beliefs regarding clothing choices, pronouns, and the recognition of various s*xual and gender identities among foster children.
Faith-Based Agencies' Concerns
A particular point of contention is the regulation's emphasis on the self-identified s*xual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression of foster children, which would override biological and anatomical considerations.
Adoption and foster care organizations that refuse to comply with these directives, which include adherence to chosen names and pronouns that align with a child's gender identity, would be excluded from offering services to LGBTQI+ children.
Critics argue that this approach presupposes a bias towards medical transitioning interventions. Faith-based adoption agencies, which constitute a significant portion of government-contracted child placement agencies, are primarily opposed to this new approach, emphasizing the potential harm it poses to children's well-being.
These agencies play a crucial role in the foster care system, with some states like New Mexico relying almost entirely on Christian organizations. Given that observant Christians are more likely to consider fostering than the general population, the exclusion of faith-based organizations would significantly impact the availability of foster homes.
Legal Implications Highlighted
The legal implications of this proposed rule are significant. The attorneys general argue that the rule indirectly attempts what the Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional: the exclusion of faith-based providers from the foster care system based on their religious beliefs regarding s*xual orientation and gender identity.
Furthermore, they assert that the rule violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act by discriminating against individuals and organizations of faith and compelling them to adopt gender-affirming speech. The harm extends beyond religious organizations and adoptive families, directly impacting the children within the foster care system.
By narrowing the pool of available providers and families, the rule could limit the options for LGBTQI+ foster children, potentially relegating them to less personal and nurturing environments, like congregate settings, instead of loving family homes.