The governor of Texas signed the Freedom To Serve Children Act in 2017. Also called House Bill 3859, the new law allows faith-based child welfare agencies that receive state funding to discriminate against you as an LGBT individual or couple wishing to adopt children or serve as foster parents. As Salon explains, if the placement of a child with a same-sex couple or LGBT individual would go against the agency’s “sincerely held religious beliefs,” it could deny the placement without fear of “adverse actions” by the state government.
The law does not prevent you from adopting or fostering a child if you are LGBT. The text of the law requires that alternative providers be available to provide services to you if a faith-based agency refuses to do so. However, there are no specifics in the law as to the functioning of the referral process.
Impact on LGBT families
In addition to preventing LGBT individuals or couples from adopting or fostering children previously unknown to them, the law could potentially block kinship adoptions that would otherwise be in a child’s interest if the family member happened to be LGBT. It also has dire implications for LGBT children and adolescents in the care of agencies that are supposedly looking after their welfare. For example, on the grounds of violating a “sincerely held religious belief,” an agency could potentially deny a trans child access to a gender-affirming counselor.
Implications for other groups
Though clearly targeting LGBT families, the law could potentially impact members of other groups as well. In theory, a Christian adoption center could reject parents belonging to other faiths, as well as interfaith couples and single parents, on religious grounds.