According the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the US alone more than 437,000 children are in foster care. 117,000 of these children are waiting to be adopted. This figure, represents ONLY half of the number of children that are actually placed with adopted parents each year. That’s right! More than 50,000 children awaiting adoption, go unplaced each year. Resulting in 20,000 youth ageing out of foster care each year; leaving them at higher risk of being trafficked, incarcerated and homeless. It’s safe to say the child welfare system in the U.S. is in crisis.
Here are some other disturbing facts you may not know. Currently there are 7 states in the U.S. – Texas, North and South Dakota, Michigan, Alabama, Mississippi and Virginia – that have religious exemption laws that allow discrimination against LGBTQ adoptive parents. Family and child services organizations in these states are also further permitted by law to refuse to provide services to LGBTQ children and families if their religious beliefs conflict with them doing so. We. Are. NOT toying with you Linda!
The real tragedy here is in the most socially progressive country in the world – According to Wikipedia 2017 SPI index- thousands of children annually are going needlessly orphaned because of discriminatory laws. There are currently 2 million LGBTQ people in the US willing to foster and adopt children but are prevented from doing so because they face discrimination under state laws, policies and practices. These qualified and loving prospective foster and adoptive LGBTQ parents could solve a national child welfare crisis 20x’s over, but instead harmful religious laws across the country are being put before what’s best for children.
How exactly are children and LGBTQ persons impacted by religious laws?
- Child welfare agencies are empowered by law choose to leave children in foster care over placing them with qualified loving LGBTQ parents.
- Adoptions can be denied based on different religious beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status and gender identity.
- Orphaned children can be disallowed from being placed with LGBTQ extended family members. (Grandparents, aunts, uncles.)
- LGBTQ youth are at risk of being forced into non-supportive homes and even subjected to conversion therapy practices.
What can you do to help?
- Help pass the Every Child Deserves a Family Act. This piece of legislation would prohibit federally funded adoption and foster care agencies from discriminating against children in care and potential parents based on sexual orientation, gender identity and marital status.
- Repeal state laws that allow adoption and foster care agencies to discrimination against LGBTQ persons.
- Vote to pass state laws and regulations that prohibit adoption and foster care agencies that receive state funding from discriminating against potential parents on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, religion and marital status.
- Provide and help fund sensitivity training for child welfare workers as well as education on diverse recruitment practices in adoption and foster care agencies. More LGBTQ persons working in these institutions will help better serve children and families, remove stigma as well as reduce institutionalized discriminatory attitudes.
- If you are an LGBTQ person working in the child welfare field be out where safe and speak up against discrimination.
- Demand sensitivity training and non-discriminatory training for and attorneys and judges.
Non-discriminatory, culturally competent care is in the best interest of children and society.
Image | @ella_wonder