EV Seeks To Reopen Adoption Discussion
Equality Virginia announced today that they are leading efforts to reopen discussion on rules governing adoption and foster care agencies. EV has submitted a letter to the chair of the Virginia State Board of Social Services and the Commissioner of the Department. In the letter, the organization requests recently adopted rules be suspended for further public comment.
“Children in the child welfare system and prospective foster and adoptive parents have the right to be protected against discrimination. The only factor that should control child placements is the best interests of the child,” executive director James Parrish said.
“The State Board’s last minute decision to strip protections against discrimination based on gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, family status and sexual orientation from the rules governing state licensed agencies was done without any chance for the public to comment on this substantial change recommended by the Commissioner.”
According to Parrish, under Virginia’s Administrative Process Act, the Board is required to reopen the comment period in such circumstances if 25 people ask it to do so. EV presented the Chair and Commissioner with letters from more than 25 different individuals and organizations from across Virginia requesting the effective date of legislation be delayed for extended public comment.
EV was joined in the efforts with Virginia New Majority, the National Black Justice Coalition, the ACLU, Mothers and Others, Virginia NOW, People of Faith for Equality in Virginia.
The Family Equality Council also issued a press release supporting the action.
Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director of the Family Equality Council, said the extended comment period would allow Virginians to give their perspective on policy that impacts the 6,000 children in the state’s foster care system.
“The current policy will exclude thousands of qualified prospective parents willing to take these children simply because of their sexual orientation” said Chrisler. “A recent Washington Post poll confirmed that a majority of Virginians agree that qualified LGBT parents should have the right to foster and adopt. Now the State Board of Social Services should give the people of Virginia a chance to be heard.”
Last month, State Board of Social Services moved to drop proposed revisions that would be inclusive of prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. The revisions changed from “prohibit acts of discrimination based on race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, or family status to: 1. Delay or deny a child’s placement; or 2. Deny an individual the opportunity to apply to become a foster or adoptive parent.”
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