Today, HRC blasted Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer for signing a patently discriminatory bill, SB 284, which is a license to discriminate with taxpayer funds against prospective LGBTQ foster or adoptive parents, single parents, or other qualified families. Kansas and Oklahoma are the only two states this year to allow anti-LGBTQ legislation to become law.
SB 284 will have a sweeping, harmful impact in child welfare services by enabling discrimination against LGBTQ people, same-sex couples, interfaith couples, single parents, married couples in which one prospective parent has previously been divorced, or other qualified parents to whom an agency has an objection. The biggest barrier to placing children with families is a lack of qualified prospective parents; having the state give contractors and subcontractors a license to discriminate, thereby limiting the pool of prospective parents for no legitimate reason, is unconscionable and an unacceptable use of taxpayer dollars.
“Kansas now joins Oklahoma as the only states to allow anti-LGBTQ state bills to become law this year,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president of policy and political affairs. “Kansas lawmakers, from the legislature to the governor, are clearly stating that it is more important to them to discriminate against their own constituents than it is to find loving homes for children in need. Make no mistake: this law will harm the kids, families and reputation of this state.”
Many top child welfare organizations, from Kansas and across the country, have spoken out in opposition of the bill, including the Child Welfare League of America, North American Council on Adoptable Children, National Center for Adoption and Permanency, Foster Club, Voice For Adoption, Foster Adopt Connect, Kansas Appleseed, and Children's Alliance of Kansas. This bill most harms children in the system who are awaiting placement in qualified, loving homes and are instead denied placement with a family due to a lack of prospective parents. Experts agree that child welfare services should be guided by the overarching principle that guides all family law: all determinations should be in the best interest of the child. SB 284 clearly violates this principle.
Additionally, an interfaith group of Kansas-based faith leaders, and state and national faith organizations sent a letter to the legislature opposing SB 284. The letter is signed by more than 50 Kansas-based faith leaders and statewide organizations and 39 national and statewide faith organizations. These individuals and organizations represent people of faith from more than a dozen religious denominations and are based in nearly 20 different communities in Kansas.
HRC recently released a report, titled Disregarding the Best Interest of the Child: License to Discriminate In Child Welfare Services, detailing the harms of efforts to write anti-LGBTQ discrimination by child welfare agencies into law. Statistics suggest that an estimated two million LGBTQ adults in the U.S. are interested in adoption, but the LGBTQ community often remains an untapped resource when it comes to finding families for children and youth in foster care.
Research consistently shows that LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in the foster care system, as 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. SB 284 will only exacerbate these challenges faced by LGBTQ young people.