HHS Abandons Mission, Issues Rule Encouraging Discrimination and Religious Refusal of Medical Care

“The new rule sends a dangerous message to medical and child welfare providers that they can put their personal beliefs ahead of the health of patients or the best interests of children.”

For Immediate Release — January 19, 2018

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Family Equality Council strongly condemns the Trump Administration’s creation of a new office and proposed rule which would allow medical and child welfare providers to refuse treatment and services. Providing permission to deny medical care and needed child welfare services hurts LGBTQ people and our families and directly contravenes the Department of Health and Human Service’s own declaration that it is the government’s “principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services.”

Following the publication of the proposed rule today, Family Equality Council Chief Policy Officer Denise Brogan-Kator said: “The new rule sends a dangerous message to medical and child welfare providers that they can put their personal beliefs ahead of the health of patients or the best interests of children. Instead of promoting discrimination, the Department of Health of Human Services should be ensuring that all Americans receive the life-saving medical care that they deserve.”

19% of youth in foster care identify as LGBTQ, and Family Equality Council is gravely concerned that these youth could be denied the affirming and supportive care all youth deserve, and that discriminatory practices will re-traumatize children who have already experienced neglect and abuse. Just last November, The American Academy of Pediatrics told HHS in public comments that “[p]olicies that single-out or discriminate against LGBTQ youth are harmful to social-emotional health and may have lifelong consequences.”

The new rule also allows for denial of life-saving services to youth, including suicide assessment, early intervention, and mental health treatment if these critical services go against their legal guardians’ religious beliefs or moral objections.

Anti-LGBTQ discrimination in health and human services doesn’t just hurt LGBTQ people, it hurts their children and families too. Approximately 20% of LGBTQ people are parents, and Family Equality Council has documented numerous instances of harm to children of LGBTQ-headed families when health providers are allowed to deny critical services. For example, in preparation of an amicus brief in the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case, Familiy Equality Council documented the case of a child of a lesbian couple in Texas who was refused emergency medical treatment by a pediatric dentist who told the parent that “a child cannot have two mothers.”

The proposed rule is accessible in the Federal Register.

For Family Equality Council’s reaction to the announcement of the new HHS division intended to enact this discriminatory agenda, see our January 18, 2018 release.

About Family Equality Council

Family Equality Council connects, supports, and represents the three million parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer in this country today and their six million children of all ages. We are changing attitudes and policies to ensure that all families are respected, loved, and celebrated — including families with parents who are LGBTQ. We are a community of parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren and unattached youth that reaches across this country. For almost forty years we have raised our children and raised our voices toward fairness for all families. As we look to the next chapter of our work, we are also focused on LGBTQ youth needing families and the two million LGBTQ adults waiting to foster or adopt in our country.