Despite a shortage of foster care families, Christians and others with traditional/biblical views on gender and sexuality will be banned from being foster parents if a new California bill becomes law. SB 407, authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), passed its first committee hearing yesterday after Wiener claimed 30 percent of California’s foster youth identify as LGBTQ and need protection from physical and psychological abuse coming from non-affirming foster parents.
“We want to make sure we aren’t placing these children in homes where there is hostility towards them,” Wiener said.
The sponsors of the bill, LGBTQ activist organizations Equality California and Family Builders, believe the current system for evaluating potential foster care parents isn’t strong enough to weed out those who object to their LGBTQ beliefs about gender and sexuality. Jill Jacobs, executive director of Family Builders, explained that the change is justified because of the higher rates of abuse and suicide among LGBTQ-identified youth. The new criteria for foster parents in SB 407 “includes an ability to demonstrate an understanding of the unique needs of LGBTQ youth and a capacity and willingness to meet those needs,” Jacobs testified. “If the prospective caregiver can not meet those needs they should not be approved.”
But this isn’t just making sure LGBTQ-identified youth are matched with parents who affirm those identities. SB 407 would require every foster parent to agree to affirm the LGBTQ identity of their foster child if they express their gender or sexual orientation confusion. “We don’t know which youth are going to be gay or non-binary or which children will come out,” Jacobs explained. “Therefore we must ensure that all caregivers are able to meet the needs of all children which SB 407 will do.”
Legislative Director for Equality California Craig Pulsipher confirmed the goal of the legislation. “We … know that sexual orientation and gender identity evolves over time and families caring for any foster youth in this state should be prepared for that reality” he testified.
Pulsipher acknowledged the law already requires foster parents to receive training on sexual orientation and gender identity, “but quite frankly it is not enough.” he said. “California can and must do more to strengthen the resource family approval process on the front end to better prevent discrimination of these vulnerable youth.”
“Foster parents with biblical and traditional views about gender and sexuality provide loving and stable homes to thousands of California foster kids,” said Greg Burt, Capitol Director for the California Family Council. “Yet Senator Wiener and other LGBTQ activists wants to force these parents to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs in order to continue to serve the needs of these vulnerable kids. California already has a shortage of foster parents, but the Senator doesn’t seem to care if his bill chases potential foster parents away.”
Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (Redlands-R) expressed concern this bill would “discriminate against families who don’t have the capacity to meet the needs of LGBTQ kids,” and she was hoping that the state would give these families an opportunity to be foster parents to kids who don’t identify as LGBTQ. But Senator Wiener said his bill would not allow this. With one out of three foster kids eventually identifying as LGBTQ, every parent needs to be willing to raise an LGBTQ kid the affirming way the state expects, Wiener explained.
According the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), discriminating against people of faith who want to foster children because of their religious views on gender and sex is unconstitutional. “As written, SB 407 stands as inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s recent holding in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, 141 S. Ct. 1868 (2021),” wrote PJI Chief Counsel PJI Kevin T. Snider in his letter of opposition. “In that case the City of Philadelphia refused to contract with a religious foster care agency (Catholic Social Services) for the provision of foster care services unless the religious institution agreed to certify same-sex couples as foster parent.”
“In view of the discrimination directed towards families such that they can never be eligible to foster children unless they accept government orthodoxy relative to LGBTQ+, SB 407 strays from neutrality and general applicability to a degree that it cannot be squared with the Supreme Court’s holding in Fulton,” Snider concluded.
In the end, Senate Human Services Committee voted to approve SB 407, and now the bill moves to the Senate Judiciary Committee with a hearing scheduled next week, Tuesday, April 25.
Watch the entire SB 407 hearing before the Senate Human Service Committee below: