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10/7/11  4:39 pm
Commenter: Joshua Block, American Civil Liberties Union LGBT Project

Placement Should Be Based on Child's Best Interest -- Not the Religious Criteria of the Agency
 

The American Civil Liberties Union strongly supports retaining the provisions in the original draft proposal for the minimum standards for licensed private child placement agencies, which would protect children from being placed in the care of an agency that discriminates against potential parents based on their sexual orientation.  

 

In setting standards for adoption agencies, the Virginia Board of Social Services’ paramount concern should be the best interest of the child -- not the preferences of the adoptions agencies.  When a private entity chooses to serve as a placement agency, it is performing a public function and agreeing to place the best interests of the child ahead of its own desires and preferences.  Arbitrarily discriminating against potential adoptive parents based on sexual orientation harms the best interests of the child by artificially restricting the pool of loving families that the child could be placed with.  Such discrimination is particularly egregious in the context of foster home placements.  When the state contracts with private agencies to find families for children in state custody, those children have the right to have their placements determined based on child welfare criteria, not religious criteria.

 

There is no child welfare basis to exclude gay people from the pool of potential parents. Every major national organization devoted to children’s health and welfare -- including the AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and the Child Welfare League of America -- agrees that gay men and lesbians are just as qualified to parent and just as capable of providing safe and loving homes for children as their heterosexual counterparts.  This wide consensus is based on scientific research that has consistently shown that children raised by gay and lesbian parents are just as healthy and well-adjusted as children raised by heterosexual parents.

 

Children placed by adoption agencies are best served when there are as many and as diverse placement opportunities as possible, making it more likely to find one that is in the children’s best interests.  Categorically eliminating lesbian and gay male individuals and couples reduces the pool of motivated and competent parents who potentially can meet the needs of these children and is inconsistent with accepted practices in the foster care and adoption fields, as well as inconsistent with the best interests of boys and girls whose best interests the adoption agency is supposed to serve.  These children have an interest in being placed in homes based on their best interests, rather than an adoption agency’s discriminatory standards.

 

When an adoption agency arbitrarily excludes gay and lesbian parents from consideration, the prospective parents are not the only ones harmed by the agency’s discrimination.  Even if gay and lesbian applicants are able to adopt a different child from a different agency, the child that has been entrusted to the care of the discriminatory adoption agency remains with an adoption agency that is placing its own biases above the child’s best interest.

CommentID: 19717