Tag: urge

Should Child Welfare Agencies Be Able to Cite Religion to Discriminate? Experts Urge Supreme Court to Say No

Should Child Welfare Agencies Be Able to Cite Religion to

More than 1,000 experts and organizations filed nearly 50 briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday arguing that taxpayer-funded child welfare agencies should not be able to discriminate against LGBTQ people and others by citing religious beliefs. The implications of this case could go far beyond child welfare, however.

Fulton Infographic - Movement Advancement Project

The case, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, began in 2018, when the City of Philadelphia stopped referring foster children to Catholic Social Services (CSS) because the agency would not license qualified same-sex couples to be foster or adoptive parents, a violation of the city’s anti-discrimination laws. CSS then brought a lawsuit in federal district court, claiming those laws impinged on their freedom of religion. Both the district court and an appeals court ruled in the city’s favor, saying that it can require foster care agencies with city contracts to adhere to the city’s nondiscrimination laws. CSS appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which said in February that it would hear the case this fall; this past Wednesday it scheduled oral arguments for November 4.

In June, the Trump administration filed a brief siding with CSS and saying that taxpayer-funded child service agencies should be allowed to discriminate. Now, major LGBTQ organizations, child welfare professional associations, LGBTQ youth service providers, faith-based foster care agencies, faith leaders, legal scholars, civil rights organizations, bipartisan elected officials, and others have filed 46 friend-of-the-court briefs opposing such discrimination. Freedom for All Americans, one of the groups involved in the strategy behind the briefs, helped recruit signatories including approximately 450 faith leaders and clergy, 35 current and former Republican elected officials and leaders, more than 30 national businesses, and more than 165 mayors and local governments (including the U.S. Conference of Mayors) representing 50 million Americans.

A new report released this week by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) further shows the harms of religious exemptions in the child welfare system. Among other things, the report reminds us of the extent of taxpayer funding in the system, with $7.3 billion in dedicated federal child welfare funding going to states and counties and then to individual child-placing agencies, and an estimated $29.9 billion in federal, state, and local funds spent on child welfare in 2016. The impact of allowing discrimination in this system would be immense, as MAP explains:

Research finds that Black and Native American children, children with disabilities, and LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in the child welfare system. That’s why robust nondiscrimination protections within the child welfare system based on race, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other characteristics are so important even though many states lack explicit protections for sexual orientation,  gender identity, and gender expression. Without such protections, children may be mistreated or separated from their families because of factors unrelated to their safety and well-being, and otherwise qualified families may be denied the ability to foster and adopt children in need.

Depending on how the Supreme Court rules and how broad or narrow its ruling is, the Fulton case could create a license to discriminate that would go against the best interests of the hundreds of thousands of children and millions of families who receive services through the system, MAP says.

This undermines the very premise of taxpayer-funded social services: that they are designed to serve all of the public.

Beyond child welfare, a very broad ruling could even “result in nearly every entity that receives government funding, ranging from child welfare agencies to soup kitchens and those offering job training programs, being able to claim a religious exemption to a wide array of regulations and laws.” It could mean that “government-funded service providers choosing to serve only those who share their own beliefs or refusing to provide critical services to those who don’t.”

MAP doesn’t pull any punches: “This undermines the very premise of taxpayer-funded social services: that they are designed to serve all of the public.”

Visit the Freedom for All Americans website to read more about the case, sign up for updates, and learn how you can help spread the word about the harm of using taxpayer funds to discriminate.

Disney and Sky urge Tories to honour reforms

Disney and Sky urge Tories to honour reforms

Fifteen media companies have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson in support of trans rights. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

A collective of media and entertainment organisations including Disney, Sky and the Financial Times have written to UK prime minister Boris Johnson urging him to honour the government’s commitment to reforming the Gender Recognition Act.

Theresa May’s Conservative government announced plans to reform the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, which governs the way trans men and women in the UK gain legal recognition of their gender, in 2017.

A huge public consultation on potential changes was held in 2018, with more than 100,000 people reportedly sharing their views on proposed improvements to the law.

However, subsequent Tory governments have repeatedly stalled on publishing the results. They are now expected to be announced by Johnson’s equalities chief Liz Truss before parliament’s summer recess on July 21, although it was leaked to the Sunday Times last month that plans to reform the GRA have been scrapped.

The collective behind the open letter told Johnson they were writing “to express our support of the trans community”.

“As it stands, the UK is a global leader in LGBT+ equality – and the government has been right to work closely with businesses to advance equality on the world stage,” the letter says.

“We all strive to be trans-inclusive organisations and believe that a diverse workforce, including trans employees, offers greater business success.

“With this in mind, we would be opposed to any policy or legislation changes that impact the trans community negatively.

“Trans people have always been able to use single-sex facilities that match their gender, and the Equality Act 2010 codified this.

“Additionally, it has been widely reported that the 2018 public consultation on GRA reform shows up to 70 per cent of respondents agreed that it was appropriate to remove additional barriers to trans people being able to identify and live authentically.

“Failing to honour the government’s commitment to implement the consultation findings, and even increasing restrictions on trans people’s ability to live authentically, benefits no one.

“It would mean changes to working environments that would make it hard for trans and non-binary people to focus on their work, preventing them from being able to travel safely, and inhibiting them from operating in society.

“We hope that we can continue to be part of discussion about the future of trans equality in the UK, working together to make progress for the trans community and ensure our businesses maintain the diverse perspectives that help make us successful.”

Other signatories to the letter include EMEA, Warner Media, NBCUniversal, Endemol Shine, ViacomCBS, AMC Networks International UK, Discovery, Diva Media Group, Sports Media LGBT+, Film + TV Charity, GEEYOU, and The Sarah O’Connell Show.

The letter was organised by InterMedia, an LGBT+ network group for people working across all areas of the media spectrum.