Lambda Legal Urges Tennessee State Senate to Pull Discriminatory Child Welfare Bill SB 1304

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January 14, 2020

(NEW YORK, NY – January 14, 2020) The Tennessee State Senate is poised to vote today Tuesday on Tennessee SB 1304, a license-to-discriminate bill that allows taxpayer-funded child welfare agencies to reject foster or adoptive parents based upon the agency’s religious beliefs.

The Senate’s consideration comes after the bill was pulled from the floor last minute last year after the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday had approved it on a 6-2 vote. A companion bill, HB 836, was passed by the Tennessee House of Representatives earlier.

Currey Cook, Counsel and Director, Youth in Out-of-Home Care Project, Lambda Legal, issued the following statement:

“This bill would give a special license to faith-based child welfare agencies funded with taxpayers dollars to discriminate in foster care and adoption against parents who are trying to provide a loving home to children in need. This bill would children in foster care in Tennessee a much-needed family simply because agencies want to put their beliefs above the best of interests of the children.

“Lambda Legal urges Tennesseans to ask their Senator to contact Senator Paul Rose, sponsor of the bill, and ask him to pull this harmful and discriminatory bill and to urge them to reject this flawed public policy whose victims will be children and prospective parents.

“Tennessee risks joining the roster of states who have passed similarly harmful bills that allow government-funded discrimination and we urge state senators of conscience to resist this effort that sends a message to LGBTQ families that they are not welcome. To deny qualified parents eager to foster or adopt children in need of loving homes because of their sexual orientation or gender-identity or particular religious belief – criteria wholly unrelated to their ability to parent - is not only wrong, but turns the entire child welfare system on its head by prioritizing a provider’s interests over those of children.”

“The foster care system is at a critical juncture where it is required by new federal law to reduce the number of children placed in harmful group homes and to expand family home options for children who cannot safely return to their family of origin. Children who need more homes, not fewer, should not suffer as part of efforts to chip away at equality for LGBTQ families. People of all faiths and loving and qualified LGBT individuals and couples want nothing more than to provide loving homes to children.

We implore the Senate to do what’s best for the children and that’s allowing all qualified, responsible and loving parents to be able to foster and adopt.”

Lambda Legal asks any youth or adults who have experienced discrimination in Tennessee’s child welfare systems to call our Help Desk at 212.809.8585 or complete this online form.


Contact Info

Samy Nemir, snemir@lambdalegal.org, C: (202) 672-4877

Related Issues: Youth in Out-of-Home Care