Kansas Adds Name to Roll of States Denying Children Loving Families

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May 18, 2018

Today, Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer signed into law Kansas SB 284, 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.

Colyer’s action comes one week after Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed SB 1140, a similar bill, making Kansas the second state to enact an anti-LGBT bill this year.

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

“It is incredible and unconscionable that states across the country would rather hurt foster kids – children at their most vulnerable – by denying them loving homes just because prospective foster parents might be a same-sex couple, or Jewish, or any number of other irrelevant and discriminatory rationales.

"And make no mistake: this is not simply about the sexual orientation or gender identity of prospective foster or adoptive parents. In South Carolina, a government-funded funded foster care agency cited a Jewish family’s faith in rejecting their involvement in the agency’s programming, and a Catholic agency is suing the City of Philadelphia to block enforcement of that city’s nondiscrimination ordinance.

“There are children in the Kansas child welfare system in desperate need of loving families. And there are loving and qualified LGBT individuals and couples in Kansas who want nothing more than to give those children the warm, caring and safe environment they deserve. SB 284 works to withhold those families from those children.

"It gives special permission to religiously-affiliated government-funded child welfare agencies to place the agencies’ beliefs above the needs and best interests of children in care and discriminate against parents who are trying to provide a loving home.

“This afternoon Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer sign this hateful bill into law, thereby withholding loving homes from Kansas children.

"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 is not only wrong, but impacts the most vulnerable the most.”

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

Read more about Lambda Legal’s work with children in out-of-home care.