Fulton v. City of Philadelphia: Discrimination Leaves Youth in Foster Care

Fulton v. City of Philadelphia is a Supreme Court case that could have profound impact on LGBTQ+ families and youth in foster care. Family Equality filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in this case. The brief aims to lift up the experiences of LGBTQ+ foster parents. This National Foster Care Month, as the Supreme Court inches closer to a decision in this case, we’re highlighting voices from our brief to show the real-life impact of discrimination. To read the amicus brief we submitted to the Supreme Court, click here.

Valarie’s Story

“The case that weighs most on my mind is the 9-year-old boy in Michigan we inquired about in 2014. His caseworker stated that they would not consider a same-sex couple as a placement for the child. At least once a year since then, I have checked . . . and even today, five years later, he is still in foster care and listed as available for adoption. He never got the chance to meet us, but I hope he at least knows that there is a family out there who cares and wanted to adopt him.”

Valarie and her wife were licensed foster parents, open to taking sibling groups, older children, and children with mental and health and behavioral issues. But, “it was made clear the from the beginning that, as a same-sex couple, [they] would be the last on [agencies’] call list.”

When they inquired about a 9 year-old boy in Michigan, the agency turned them away. As of the filing of our brief, this boy still remained in foster care. He has waited for a family for over 5 years. Meanwhile, Valarie and her wife never met him—didn’t even have a chance—simply because of their sexual orientation.

Youth in Care Pay the Price

Children do not get to decide whether they are placed with an agency that discriminates against qualified parents or not. And, yet, when agencies discriminate, children ultimately suffer the harm.

The harm of this discrimination against Valarie and her wife fell on the shoulders of a little boy who needs a home. He might not even know that a family wanted to adopt him.

There is no more prescient example of the tragic result of discrimination than denying a child a home.

We cannot permit agencies to put their religious beliefs over the best interests of the children in the foster care system. The best interests of children should always come first – that is at the very heart of child welfare. When we permit taxpayer funded agencies to discriminate based on religious criteria, children miss out on a home. Far too often, they remain in the child welfare system unnecessarily.

Learn more about Fulton v. City of Philadelphia

#DecisionDay Fulton

#DecisionDay: Fulton

The Supreme Court will issue its opinion in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia this spring. On the day the court issues its opinion, we’re joining NEAT and other partners for a Virtual Rally and Town Hall. The rally will be a chance for us to gather together as a community to react to the decision, support each other and hear from speakers and performances. Then, the Town Hall will feature experts providing analysis of the opinion, how it will affect our lives, and what still needs to be done. RSVP to those events here.