Controversial Foster Care Bill Advances in Tennessee Amidst LGBTQ+ Concerns


The Tennessee Senate passed legislation on Tuesday that prohibits the state from disqualifying foster and adoptive parents based on their religious or moral convictions, including those regarding sexual and gender identity.

The Tennessee Foster and Adoptive Parent Protection Act was introduced by Republican Rep. Mary Littleton. She claims that the bill assures that the government does not violate prospective foster and adoptive parents’ religious and moral views while simultaneously protecting the child’s best interests. However, critics are concerned that the bill may place LGBTQ+ youngsters in non-affirming circumstances that are unfriendly to their sexual and gender identity.

The measure expressly prohibits the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) from asking 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 law would not prevent the DCS from considering those beliefs when placing the child, but it does state that “this bill must be read in harmony with the department’s duty to make placements consistent with the best interests of the child.”

Critics argue that the bill could lead to LGBTQ+ youngsters being placed in non-affirming homes.

Democratic Rep. Sen. Raumesh Akbari opposed the law, stating parents cannot “deny somebody’s basic existence” because it contradicts their views.

“That is between you and your god,” Akbari said, according to 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 stated during the bill’s debate last week, according to the Lookout. “This bill does not disregard the values and beliefs of the child.”

The bill passed with a final vote of 25 to 6. It now moves to the House for further discussion.

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