Couples Sue State After Being Kicked Off Foster Program Over Christian Beliefs

( A pair of Christian couples in Vermont are suing state officials in federal court for kicking them out of a foster care program due to their religious beliefs. The couples claim that the Vermont Department of Children and Families (DFC) declined to renew their foster care licenses due to their beliefs on LGBT-related issues.

DCF policies require foster families to support kids who want to wear clothing and accessories that match their self-proclaimed gender identity. The couples contend that the policy forces them to abandon their religious beliefs in order to participate in the state’s foster care program.

The couples’ lawsuit, filed by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), accuses the state of violating their constitutional rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The First Amendment protects freedom of religion and the Fourteenth Amendment provides for equal protection under the law.

Vermont would rather leave children without a home than place them with families that hold traditional beliefs on gender, according to ADF. The state is putting its “ideological agenda” ahead of the needs of suffering kids, ADF Legal counsel Johannes Widmalm-Delphonse said.

DCF refused to renew the couples’ licenses despite social workers praising one of them as an “amazing” family and the other as having “the perfect home” for a foster child. The state applies its gender policy categorically, preventing the couples from even fostering a relative or a child who shares their beliefs.

DCF Family Services Division deputy commissioner Aryka Radke said that the department works to ensure that kids in foster care are placed in homes that support them in all aspects, including sexual orientation and gender identity. Research shows that LGBT youth in foster care have higher than average negative outcomes, including substance abuse, human trafficking, and suicide, Radke said.

Although DCF appears concerned about the wellbeing of the children in the state’s foster care system, the question arises whether preventing kids from having a stable home is really better than exposing them to traditional beliefs.

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