A proposed rule from HHS’s Administration for Children and Families (ACF) seeks to classify foster facilities and parents who hold traditional views about sex and marriage as unqualified to provide a “safe and appropriate” environment for kids with same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria.
Federal law states that children in foster care must receive “safe and proper” supervision that will “support their health and wellbeing.” According to ACF, foster families who refuse to let their foster child be chemically castrated or irreversibly mutilated, choose to call the child by his or her given name and biologically correct pronouns, or try to protect the child from radical gender ideology propaganda and propagandists, fail to adequately meet these requirements.
“Due to the mental health challenges experienced by LGBTQI+ children in foster care it is essential to place LGBTQI+ children in placements that can provide the support and specialized resources necessary to support their health and wellbeing,” the proposed rule states.
ACF claims the change is necessary because “LGBTQI+ children are overrepresented in the foster care population” and often enter the system “with complex needs and trauma related to the discrimination and stigma they have experienced because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
To build its case the agency openly solicited “personal stories from current and former LGBTQI+ foster children and others, that speak to the risks to children of placements that are not safe and appropriate, and the advantages of placements that are.”
Feelings Get the Final Say
Under the proposed rule, which would cost upwards of $40 million in just three years, caregivers who want to have a loving and truthful conversation with their foster child about their sexual attraction and sex could be classified by the ACF as abusive.
In order to qualify as “an environment free from hostility, mistreatment, or abuse based on the child’s LGBTQI+ identity and status,” foster families must never make “any attempt to … change [a child’s] sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.” The agency went so far as to label therapies focused on helping people with unwanted same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria as “harmful” and “inappropriate.”
ACF suggested that these practices, often Christian, are proof that “many LGBTQI+ foster youth do not currently receive placements or services that are safe and appropriate, as required by statute.”
The HHS arm claims it “appreciates the vital role” faith-based caregivers have in the foster care system and says it would not force anyone to abandon their “sincerely held religious objections” to continue participating.
The rule’s premise, however, suggests that anyone who does not “affirm” kids who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, or nonbinary will be shunned by the state as failing to support the foster children’s “health and wellbeing.”
That classification alone, even when couched with promises of religious accommodation on a “case-by-case” basis, means thousands of religious foster families could be stripped of the opportunity to continue fostering.
“Despite these attempts at religious accommodation, it is important to recognize the deeper consequences the proposed regulations would likely have over time. Almost certainly, they would create two distinct classes of partner nonprofit agencies: those certified as ‘safe’ because they have embraced the Biden Administration’s new definition of this term and those viewed as less safe because they have not,” the Christian Alliance for Orphans warned. “While some governments may continue to place some children in families through these agencies, it seems likely that the new two-class system would promote both implicit and explicit bias against these agencies and increasing exclusion by government, foundations and other funders, fellow nonprofits, and others.”
Bigger Than Foster Care
ACF relies on the same tactics used by radical gender ideology activists and their junk studies to emotionally blackmail Americans into believing that foster parents failing to endorse a child’s sexual distress will imperil the child’s physical and mental health and raise his risk of drug and alcohol abuse and even suicide.
The proposed rule makes no mention of the data showing that, even with societal approval and after permanent disfigurement surgeries, gender-confused people are far more likely to commit suicide than the general population. Nor does it cite any studies showing the irreversible damage “affirmation” leaves in its wake.
Instead, ACF said the consequences listed above are the primary reason foster facilities and parents need to be reeducated “on their critical role in the lives of LGBTQI+ youth to avoid re-traumatization and further victimization of youth.”
According to the agency, it is “critical” that the federal government implement “strategic foster parent training and recruitment,” i.e. demanding caregivers “affirm” a child’s same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria or risk losing their ability to foster to someone else who will.
If the rule is finalized, it doesn’t just affect faith-based foster facilities and parents. The rule also lays the groundwork for the federal government to interfere with how parents raise their biological children.
“The underlying premise of HHS’s foster care rule is that non-‘affirmation’ of a child’s LGBTQI+ identity is unsafe and abuse,” Rachel Morrison, Ethics and Public Policy Center fellow and director of the center’s HHS Accountability Project, told The Federalist. “If it’s unsafe and abuse not to affirm a child’s LGBTQI+ identity in foster care, then it would be unsafe and abuse not to affirm a child in other contexts, such as adoption and custody disputes. The dangerous precedent established by this rule will lay the groundwork for the government to take children away from their biological parents.”
The comment period for the proposed rule closes on Nov. 27.