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Republicans Miller, Morrisey push back on proposed federal protections for LGBTQ foster kids

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Republicans Miller, Morrisey push back on proposed federal protections for LGBTQ foster kids

Dec 01, 2023 | 6:00 am ET
By Amelia Ferrell Knisely
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Republicans Miller, Morrisey push back on proposed federal protections for LGBTQ foster kids
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Congresswoman Carol Miller, R-W.Va., joined dozens of other Republicans in Washington, D.C., to introduce the bill that would protect faith-based child welfare providers from being discriminated against for acting in accordance with their religious beliefs. (Nathan Howard | Getty Images)

West Virginia Republicans have spoken out against a proposed rule change for how child welfare agencies must manage the cases of LGBTQ children, which could include required access to gender affirming care. 

On Thursday, Congresswoman Carol Miller, R-W.Va., joined dozens of other Republicans in Washington, D.C., to introduce the bill that would protect faith-based child welfare providers from being discriminated against for acting in accordance with their religious beliefs.

State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has also joined other attorneys general to publicly oppose the federal proposal.

West Virginia has the nation’s highest rate of children coming into foster care, and there are more than 6,200 children in state foster care. 

Research shows LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in the child welfare system for reasons that include LGBTQ youth face higher rates of parental physical abuse, and are more likely to run away from home or be kicked out.

President Joe Biden prioritized addressing discrimination and barriers faced by LGBTQ youth and families in the child welfare system. His plan noted that more than 300 anti-LGBTQ laws have been introduced in state legislatures over the past year, including in West Virginia, and many involved limiting access to gender affirming care. 

Under Biden, the federal Health Department in September shared a proposal that specifies the steps agencies must take when implementing the case plan and case review requirements for LGBTQ children in foster care. The case plans would have to include support services for sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Miller said her legislation “will safeguard faith-based organizations from the Biden administration’s discriminatory policies and ensure providers receive the federal support they need to help families in our community.”

“Faith-based welfare providers are a glimpse of hope for many families who are seeking care and resources in their time of need,” said Miller in a statement. 

The bill would also prohibit federal, state and local government agencies that receive federal adoption assistance funding from holding child welfare service providers’ religious beliefs against them.

West Virginia’s foster care policy requires child placement agencies to provide foster children and their biological families equal access to services, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, disability or sexual orientation. 

However, there are no provisions in state policy protecting LGBTQ prospective foster parents from discrimination from the state’s child placement agencies.

Miller’s legislation comes on the heels of a letter from Republican attorneys general, including Morrisey, opposing the federal proposal regarding the treatment of LGBTQ foster children.

The attorneys general warned that the proposed rule could lead to the exclusion of Christian families from the foster care system.