Pennsylvania's Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced he is co-leading a coalition of Attorneys General to condemn a federal proposal that would eliminate explicit anti-discrimination language used in regulations governing federal grants that guarantees equal access to programs across the country.
Believing that the change in wording would allow discrimination against LGBTQ individuals, the Attorneys General are fighting against letting the proposal become anything more than a suggestion.
The proposal would apply to a broad range of HHS grant programs including maternal and child health grants, federally-assisted health training programs, Head Start programs, and mental health and substance abuse grants. LGBTQ families who foster and adopt children are among the most likely to be harmed by potentially being excluded from participation in federally funded child-welfare programs.
“This heartless proposal would do nothing to help Pennsylvanians or our fellow Americans,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “In fact, it would send us backwards by depriving our sons, daughters and neighbors from receiving the very services all of our tax dollars pay to deliver without discrimination.”
Under the proposed rule, HHS would eliminate explicit protections for “age, disability, sex, race, color, national origin, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation” and replace them with a generic prohibition based on federal statute.
The Trump Administration has recently been arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court against a common interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, saying that it does not and should not protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The coalition of Attorneys General has called the proposed rule "arbitrary, capricious, and lacking in explanation."
“Our nation has many children in need of safe, loving homes. Hundreds of thousands of children across the country are already in the foster care system, and the proposed rule would create unnecessary barriers that impede qualified LGBTQ families from caring for these vulnerable children,” Shapiro said.
There are an estimated 27,000 LGBTQ couples raising 58,000 children through adoption and foster-care across the United States. The Attorneys General believe that the new policy would allow federally-funded grant recipients to discriminate against LGBTQ families and deprive prospective foster and adoptive parents of the opportunity to provide a loving home to children in need.
Likewise, the AG coalition believes that the policy may allow agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ foster youth, who are greatly overrepresented in the foster care system. In 2015, about 20% of youth in foster care identified as LGBTQ compared to about 8.3% of people in the general population. Medical experts and organizations like the American Psychological Association have recognized that discrimination can have significant health consequences, especially on mental health.
The Attorneys General who are participating in the protest against this policy proposal are: Shapiro, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and the Attorneys General from Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
You can read the full letter to HHS here.