This week, lawmakers in Georgia used children as pawns when it introduced a bill (SB 368) that would give adoption agencies — including taxpayer-funded ones — a license to discriminate against prospective foster and adoptive parents. That includes discrimination against LGBTQ, Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim individuals and families — and children themselves. Lawmakers are playing politics with the lives of the 12,000 children waiting for loving homes in Georgia’s adoption and foster care system. Children’s Rights urges Georgia lawmakers to reject this bill – and we ask you to join us.
“We vehemently oppose any move that would limit the number of safe and loving homes available to children who need and deserve them. Turning away qualified individuals eager to open their homes to vulnerable children on the misleading basis of religious freedom is discriminatory, harmful, and counter to the values of compassion and decency that all faith traditions share,” said Children’s Rights Lead Counsel Christina Wilson Remlin.
In Georgia and across the country, Children’s Rights has worked to improve policies, programs and outcomes for children in foster care. We have been outspoken critics of a spate of religious freedom bills similar to Georgia’s, which allow discrimination in foster care and adoption based on the religious beliefs of adoption agencies.
Some of the bills are so broad they permit discrimination against children themselves. This appears to be the case with SB 368, which leaves the door open for child-placing agencies to discriminate against children as well as adults. LGBTQ young adults are overrepresented in the child welfare system: a 2019 study found 30.4 percent of youth in foster care identify as LGBTQ and 5 percent as transgender, compared to 11.2 percent and 1.17 percent of youth not in foster care.
In 2019, Children’s Rights established the Interfaith Coalition for Children’s Rights, a group of faith leaders working on behalf of children in foster care nationwide to combat discriminatory policies and legislation. Coalition members, including religious leaders and civil rights advocates, join forces to submit public comments, sign letters, participate in amicus briefs, and mobilize grassroots action.
If SB 368 passes, it will cause real damage. Research shows that same-sex couples are four times more likely than opposite-sex couples to be raising adopted children, and six times more likely to be raising foster children. Limiting LGBTQ Georgians’ ability to adopt will reduce the pool of available homes. Using religion as justification, this law deprives the most vulnerable children among us of the chance to be welcomed into the homes of safe and loving families.
Join us in this fight. Send a message to your lawmaker urging them to reject SB 368.