Trump proposes new adoption rules

Wesley Tabor

The Trump administration is looking to reverse a previous Obama-era regulation.

The new proposed rule would allow faith-based adoption centers to reject LGBTQ couples.

“At the heart of any foster care or adoption program, there must be a desire to place children with families who support them,” said President of Washburn Queers and Allies Lauren Evans. “A person is not unfit to care for a child inherently because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Grantees must comply with anti-discrimination laws passed by Congress under the new proposed rule. However, these anti-discrimination laws do not include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the proposed rule Friday, Nov. 1. The new rule would reverse a previous ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Reports say that the Trump administration is maintaining its view that this proposal isn’t about preventing LGBTQ couples from adopting but rather to help faith-based organizations from having to choose between helping children and honoring their faith.

“Although religious freedom should be protected, I don’t think this proposed law would be beneficial,” said Washburn University College Democrats Vice President Payton Smith. “This [proposed law] could be used as a tool to discriminate against already oppressed LGBTQ groups.” 

The rule would permit HHS programs and services, including adoption and foster care agencies, to continue receiving federal funding. These services must comply with Supreme Court decisions in issuing grant programs and comply with such anti-discrimination laws passed by Congress. Sexual orientation and gender identity are not protected characteristics under these anti-discrimination laws.

Critics warn that these programs could extend to HIV prevention programs, youth programs and refugee resettlement.

“The use of federal grants to the organization, would normally dictate that it follows the current guidelines. One must ask the question will forcing faith-based adoption centers to allow adoption by LGBT individuals cause them to instead opt to close their doors?” said Washburn University College Republicans Vice President Jake Nordhus.

A 2018 study from UCLA found that same-sex couples (21.4 %) are more likely than heterosexual couples to raise adopted children (3%).

“A proposal that blocks the freedom of LGBTQ+ community to pursue happiness directly harms the entire community,” said Evans. “It’s another way of telling queer people how to exist. Any queer person has the same right to be a parent and have a family as any heterosexual person.”

The rule will be published in the federal register as early as Monday, Nov. 4 and a 30-day comment period will follow, according to multiple reports.

“We must choose the option that would benefit the children most, which would be to allow faith-based adoption organizations to deny adoption to LGBT individuals,” said Nordhus. “However, it must be clearly stated that this does not apply to secular adoption organizations.”

Washburn University provides resources to those who identify with the LGBTQ community. Washburn University’s Office of University Diversity and Inclusion honors the history of the LGBTQQIAPP+ community, according to the official webpage.

Edited by Brianna Smith, Adam White, Abbie Barth