Family Equality Applauds Biden Administration’s Decision to Rescind Discriminatory Exemptions in Federally Funded Foster Care Programs

HHS reverses Trump-era policies allowing federally-funded providers to turn away LGBTQ+ people, people of faith, and more on the basis of religion

Washington, D.C.—This week, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), rescinded exemptions granted by the Trump administration to Texas, Michigan, and South Carolina that allowed federally-funded child welfare providers to use religious exemptions as a pretext to discriminate against potential foster parents, including LGBTQ+ parents. The Trump administration had originally issued legal guidance that misinterpreted the federal Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA) in order to grant legal justification to states that were perpetrating and furthering discrimination against otherwise qualified foster care parents.

In response to these actions, Family Equality’s CEO, Stacey Stevenson, released the following statement on behalf of the organization: 

“This is a critical first step towards addressing the pervasive discrimination that exists in the child welfare system and ensuring that the more than 400,000 youth in foster care aren’t denied a loving, affirming home because of who their prospective parents are, whom they love, or what they believe. We hope to see additional steps by HHS in the coming months to ensure that critical nondiscrimination protections are in place and rigorously enforced to ensure that qualified foster and adoptive parents are not turned away because they are LGBTQ+ or due to their religious affiliation. While this week’s actions help illustrate the Biden administration’s commitment to rolling back unconstitutional Trump-era harms done to LGBTQ+ communities, there is still much more work left to do. We must ensure both that LGBTQ+ families and other vulnerable communities are protected from discrimination and that our constitutionally-mandated balance between religious liberty and other fundamental rights to equality and liberty, including protections for LGBTQ+ families, are properly restored.” 

About Family Equality

Family Equality advances legal and lived equality for LGBTQ+ families, and for those who wish to form them, through building community, changing hearts and minds, and driving policy change. Family Equality believes every LGBTQ+ person should have the right and opportunity to form and sustain a loving family, regardless of who they are or where they live. Learn more at

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