CPAC 2014 | Inset: Adobe Stock

Representative Jim Banks (R, IN) is fighting back against proposed Health and Human Services (HHS) rules that would essentially block conservative Christian parents from adopting through foster care. Earlier this year, HHS announced a new rule that “would require that child welfare agencies ensure that each child in their care who identifies as LGBTQI+ receive a safe and appropriate placement and services that help them thrive.” The rule prioritizes the placement of such children with parents who will affirm their sexual and gender identities. “The proposed rule would protect LGBTQI+ youth by placing them in environments free of hostility, mistreatment, or abuse based on the child’s LGBTQI+ status. And the proposed rule would require that caregivers for LGBTQI+ children are properly and fully trained to provide for the needs of the child related to the child’s self-identified sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression,” the HHS says on its website. The rule comes after numerous studies have found that LGBTQI+ identifying children are overrepresented in the foster care system.

The proposed rule, however, has faced criticism as it could essentially bar conservative Christian parents, who affirm biological sex and traditional marriage, from being adoptive parents. A Massachusetts couple, Mike and Kitty Burke, have alleged that their foster care license was denied due to their Catholic beliefs on gender and sexuality. The couple stated that they were asked about their religious beliefs and positions on gender identity during the application process. A report on their fitness for adopting through foster care found that “their faith was not supportive” regarding whether or not they would “support and affirm a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity.” The couple is currently suing for discrimination.

In response to the proposed rules, Banks submitted the Sensible Adoption for Every (SAFE) Home Act, which would suspend federal funding from any child welfare agency that refuse prospective parents do not agree to medical and psychological interventions to transition a child’s gender. “The Biden administration is cruelly preventing countless children in the foster care and adoption system from going to loving homes just because parents are opposed to irreversible sex change procedures on kids. This isn’t a liberal or conservative issue. This is just plain wrong, and every sane person knows it,” Banks told Fox News. The LGBTQ+ site, The Advocate was critical of the legislation. “If H.R. 6658 were to become the law, some fear trans children could be placed in foster homes that would refuse to provide affirming and medically necessary care and therapy to the foster child.”

In addition to Banks, 18 Attorney Generals have signed a letter petitioning HHS to reject the rule. “The proposed rule exceeds the agency’s authority and raises serious constitutional concerns. It also hampers the ability of the states to protect kids by forcing children’s services agencies to police pronoun usage with the same urgency they address physical abuse,” wrote Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti. “The apparent requirement that foster parents facilitate risky medical treatments for youth is a particularly problematic case in point. After careful consideration, Tennessee prohibited gender-transition hormone and surgical treatments for minors because the State determined that those treatments are unproven and unsafe.”

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