Best Interests of Children Triumph Over Politics in Missouri

Affiliate: ACLU of Missouri
July 19, 2006 12:00 am

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ACLU and PROMO React to New Rule on Foster Care by Lesbian and Gay People

Statement of the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri, the ACLU of Eastern Missouri, the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project, and PROMO

KANSAS CITY, MO — The American Civil Liberties Union and PROMO, Missouri’s statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality organization, are very pleased with the new rule issued by the Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS) allowing lesbian and gay people to be considered as foster parents. DSS has rightly put the interests of children ahead of politics. The foster care system is in crisis, with thousands of foster children languishing in institutional and group facilities due to a severe shortage in foster homes. The new rule is a victory for the nearly 2,000 foster children in Missouri.

Lesbian and gay people will now undergo the same rigorous individualized screening procedures as heterosexuals who want to be foster parents. This is in line with what a clear majority of Missouri citizens believe about how gay parents should be treated by the government. According to a recent poll conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates and commissioned by Human Rights Campaign for PROMO, a clear majority of people from all over the state are opposed to categorically banning lesbian and gay people from being foster or adoptive parents. The poll shows that 73 percent of voters favor making decisions about child placement on a case-by-case basis focused on what is in the child’s best interest, which is precisely the process that the new rule establishes.

Every mainstream child advocacy and mental health organization opposes foster care policies that categorically ban lesbians and gay men. These groups include the Child Welfare League of America, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, and the North American Council on Adoptable Children. Decades of social science research have proven that lesbians and gay men are just as capable of being good parents as straight people, that their children are equally well adjusted, and that categorically banning any group from the pool of potential foster parents unnecessarily hurts the children who need homes the most.

After a similar ban was unanimously struck down by the Arkansas Supreme Court last month, Missouri was the only remaining state in the country with a formal policy categorically banning lesbian and gay people from serving as foster parents. Missouri has at last caught up with the rest of the country, looking to the best interests of children instead of prejudice and politics to determine the best possible placement for the thousands of children who desperately need loving foster homes.

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