Tennessee passes bill permitting non-accepting parents to adopt LGBTQ children

Tennessee passed a bill Monday that will allow potential parents who hold anti-LGBTQ beliefs to adopt and foster LGBTQ children.

The bill, Senate Bill 1738, passed 73-20. The bill will prohibit the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) from requiring prospective or current adoptive and foster parents to agree with government policy regarding “sexual orientation or gender identity” that conflicts with their own beliefs.

Under the bill, DCS is prohibited from deeming parents unfit to be a child’s guardian based on their own “religious or moral beliefs regarding sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The bill noted that DCS can still consider the values of the child and parents when determining the “most appropriate placement.”

If signed into law, the bill would conflict with federal rules that place safeguards on LGBTQ children. After passing the Senate, the bill now heads to Gov. Bill Lee (R-Tenn.).

The bill mandates that non-affirming foster parents have access to LGBTQ children for fostering or adoption. It states that a parents’ beliefs about sexual orientation or gender identity do not create “a presumption that any particular placement is contrary to the best interest of the child.”

“This bill clarifies that an action taken by a parent that is protected by this bill does not give rise to a claim or cause of action against the parent,” the bill’s text said.

State Rep. Justin Jones (D-Tenn.) argued the bill is discriminatory and “cloaked under the guise of religion.”

When arguing over the bill, Jones addressed his colleagues saying, “You stated that you want these kids to be sent into a home where they can be loved, where they can flourish. Can you explain the logic of a child being placed into a home where they are told they are wrong, that their identity is wrong, that they don’t belong, that they made a mistake with who they are? How can they flourish in such an environment?”

Earlier this year, Tennessee lawmakers gave final approval to legislation that would allow public officials to refuse to perform same-sex marriages, another example of how states across the country are attempting to limit the rights of LGBTQ adults and youth.

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