In March 2018, the city of Philadelphia learned that two of its foster care providers would not allow same-sex couples to be foster parents. One agency changed its policy and began serving same-sex couples. The other—Catholic Social Services (CSS)—did not, and Philadelphia stopped referring children to them. Catholic Social Services and four of its foster parents sued the city of Philadelphia, arguing that the agency’s right to free exercise of religion and free speech allowed them to reject qualified same-sex couples based on sexual orientation.
The North American Council on Children (NACAC) is founded on the belief that every child deserves a safe, loving, permanent, and culturally competent family. We know that limiting the pool of prospective foster and adoptive parents hurts children, teens, and the parents who are discriminated against. With this in mind, we have signed an amicus brief alongside Voice for Adoption, the National Association of Social Workers, and the Child Welfare League of America calling upon the United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals to protect the rights of children in foster care and prospective LGBTQ+ foster parents by denying CSS’s motion for preliminary injunction.
Working closely with many LGBTQ+ adoptive and foster parents, NACAC understands firsthand the amazing impact of LGBTQ+ parents, who are six times more likely than an opposite sex couples to raise a child in foster care and four times more likely to raise an adopted child. With children in foster care staying in group homes, shelters, hotels, and even social work offices because there aren’t enough families to care for them, we cannot afford to lose these qualified, loving potential parents.
Turning away potential parents based on orientation also cloaks LGBTQ+ identities in shame and stigmatization, sending a harmful message to LGBTQ+ youth in foster care, who already face higher rates of negative outcomes because of their sexual and gender orientations. With 19 percent of youth in care over age 12 identifying as LGBTQ+, we must work to ensure that these children find the most open and safe families—and LGBTQ+ are uniquely equipped to offer this awareness and understanding.
Since our founding, we at NACAC have fought for efforts—like those taken by the city of Philadelphia—that protect a child’s right to a safe, permanent, and loving family. For more on our stance, read the amicus brief here.