Washington, DC – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden said today he is co-sponsoring legislation that would prohibit discrimination against prospective foster or adoptive parents, and children and youth in the foster care system on the basis of religion, marital status, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
The John Lewis Every Child Deserves a Family Act also would bar harmful practices like conversion therapy for children participating in child welfare programs receiving federal funding, improve services to LGBTQ+ and religious minority youth, and establish a National Resource Center for LGBTQ+ youth in foster care within the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families.
“Foster children in Oregon and nationwide need every possible opportunity to be placed in a home with loving parents who will raise them with the support and care that all children deserve,” Wyden said. “This legislation taking its name from an American hero who devoted his life to a more inclusive country would live up to that goal by ensuring prospective foster and adoptive parents do not face discrimination based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, or religion.”
There are nearly 425,000 children in the foster care system, and more than 122,000 children waiting for a permanent family. This legislation is designed to increase the number of homes available to all children in foster care and to improve services to LGBTQ+ and religious minority youth. About 28 percent of homeless youth with a foster care history identify as LGBTQ+ and are more likely to experience adverse events, such as being physically harmed or stigmatized, compared to peers with no foster care history. This legislation would put an end to discriminatory policies and create a system that supports the best interests of children and foster and adoptive parents alike.
Specifically, the John Lewis Every Child Deserves a Family Act would:
· Prohibit organizations receiving federal funding from discriminating against children, youth, families, and individuals on the basis of religion, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), and marital status in the administration and provision of child welfare services.
· Ban conversion therapy for children participating in child welfare programs receiving federal funding.
· Promote safety, well-being, and permanency for LGBTQ+ children in foster care.
· Require data collection on LGBTQ+ youth and families so we can better monitor these trends and issues, and it would establish a dedicated National Resource Center for LGBTQ+ youth in foster care within the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families.
The John Lewis Every Child Deserves a Family Act is endorsed by 175 organizations.
In addition to Wyden, other co-sponsors of the bill introduced by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) are U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
A web version of this release is here.