Tennessee bill would permit anti-LGBTQ+ foster and adoptee parents

Author: Donald Padgett

The Tennessee state Senate on Tuesday passed legislation that would bar the state from excluding foster and adopting parents because of their religious or moral beliefs, including on matters of sexual and gender identity.

Entitled the Tennessee Foster and Adoptive Parent Protection Act, the bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Mary Littleton. She says the bill ensures the government does not infringe upon the religious and moral beliefs of prospective foster and adoptee parents while also ensuring the best interest of the child. However, critics fear the bill could place LGBTQ+ children in non-affirming environments hostile to their sexual and gender identities.

The bill specifically bans the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) from requiring prospective parents to “affirm, accept, or support any government policy regarding sexual orientation or gender identity that conflicts with the parent’s sincerely held religious or moral beliefs.”

The bill would not prevent the DCS from taking those beliefs into account when placing the child, however, noting “this bill must be read in harmony with the duty of the department to make placements consistent with the best interests of the child.”

Critics of the bill contend that it could open the door to placing LGBTQ+ children in non-affirming homes.

Democratic Rep. Sen. Raumesh Akbari, decried the bill, saying parents cannot “deny somebody’s basic existence” because it runs contrary to their personal beliefs.

“That is between you and your god,” Akbari was quoted by the Tennessee Lookout. “It should not be something that potentially makes a child feel unwelcome and challenges who they are to their very core.”

“This bill aims to protect the moral and religious beliefs of adoptees and foster parents,” Littleton said during debate on the bill last week according to the Lookout. “This bill does not disregard the values and beliefs of the child.”

The bill passed on a final vote of 25 to 6. It now goes to the House for further debate.

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Donald Padgett

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