What's New

What's New

LGBTQ and Child Welfare Groups Host Press Call on Bills Targeting LGBTQ Community

This morning, Schylar Baber, Executive Director of Voice for Adoption participated in a press call conference regarding the the troubling trend of child welfare bills that target LGBTQ people, several of which are moving in state legislatures across the country. Other speakers included members of LGBTQ and child welfare organizations. The call addressed legislation currently pending in Oklahoma, as well as touched on similar legislation in states such as Georgia, Texas, Alabama, and Michigan. Currently, Oklahoma’s SB 1140 is pending action in the state’s House of Representatives. Research has showed time and time again that LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in the foster care system. Many have been rejected by their families of origin because of their LGBTQ status, and are especially vulnerable to discrimination and mistreatment while in foster care.

Cathryn Oakley, State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel of Human Rights Campaign, started the call off with providing background information on these types of bills that have either passed, or are in the process of becoming law. The bills include granting State contractors licenses to discriminate, and is paid for by taxpayer dollars. So far, five states have adopted such bills discriminating against LGBTQ children, youth, families, and couples who are seeking to adopt: Oklahoma, Georgia, Texas, Alabama, and Michigan. Cathryn described these bills as "unnecessary." She added that child welfare services should be guided by the best interest of the child and that discrimination on taxpayer’s dime is not acceptable. Cathryn believes that the biggest barrier in the child welfare system is the lack of quality adoptive parents that these children need.

The next speaker was Troy Stevenson, Freedom Oklahoma. In a brief explanation, Troy detailed the current status of the bill currently pending in Oklahoma. Since the introduction of the bill, there has been an uproar across the state. In result of this, campaigns have been created fighting back. In addition, corporations have reached out to help put a stop to the bill, believing that it could ultimately lower business rates. 

Currey Cook, Lambda Legal, discussed the legal aspect of these bills. He highlighted two cases that Lambda Legal is currently working on, both involving the discrimination of same-sex couples who are seeking to adopt. Cases such as these that involve discrimination on the grounds of religion have been arising since the introduction of these bills. Both cases touched on completely ignore the rights of the child, and it is critical to prioritize rights of children over the rights of the providers. 

Schylar Baber, Voice for Adoption, informed listeners on what VFA does, and how we fight for the voices of foster youth. He emphasized that these types of bills are not in the best interest of the child, and that they only limit the largest pool of willing, able, and qualified parents who wish to adopt. According to the William's Institute, two million children  are now being raised by LGBTQ parents, but an additional two million who would like to come forward and take a child in cannot due to discriminatory policies put into place. VFA's 2018 Advocacy Priorities includes increasing children's chances of finding a permanent family, and opposing efforts by states to encourage such discriminatory policies against parents or children on sexual orientation, gender identity, or in the name of religious freedom. 

Lastly, Kim Archer, a current resident of Oklahoma and adoptive parent, provided intel from her personal experiences. Her and her partner adopted their son as an infant in Washington, D.C. long before these bills came to be. Luckily, they did not face any problems regarding discrimination throughout the adoption process. Now, their son is a teenager, and Kim recounts her family's experiences as completely normal, and emphasized that LGBTQ parents have the same ability as heterosexual parents when raising a child. She describes the Oklahoma bill currently pending as a "new low," and an effort to strip the LGBTQ community of their rights.

Overall, VFA strongly believes that these bills are not in the best interest of our children. Our goal is to find loving and supportive homes for the children in our foster care system, regardless of the parent's or child's sexual orientation or gender identity. There are not enough stable and safe homes for these children, and we cannot afford to lose anymore.