Published in Vital VOICE
Once again the well being of Native Peoples, LGBTQ youth, and families are in jeopardy, and One Million Kids for Equality are issuing this public statement on the issue. In response to Trump’s Executive Order 13777 on Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda to lower regulatory burdens on the American people, issued on February 24, 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has published a Proposed Rule (RIN 0970-AC72) on the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) with comments due June 13, 2018. AFCARS collects and records data from state and tribal title IV-E agencies on children in foster care and those who have been adopted. This data includes sexual orientation and gender expression of the children, as well as the sexual orientation of the adopting parents and foster data for Native people. By doing so, it ensures the safety and well being of LGBTQ youth, families, and Native peoples in the foster system. However, Trump’s order to “streamline” AFCARS is stripping sexual orientation, gender expression, and Native identity from foster care reporting, opening children up to exploitation, discrimination, and abuse.
One Million Kids for Equality, issued a formal comment yesterday to the HHS on the Proposed Rule, “One Million Kids for Equality is very concerned with the well-being of LGBTQ foster children due to this proposed rule, and feel very strongly that the streamlining of AFCARS will have an overwhelmingly negative impact on LGBTQ foster children and potential adoptive families due to the reasons outlined below.”
They are also expressing many points that defend the collection of sexual orientation, gender identity, and Native data and why they should continue to be collected. Our points state that LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in the foster system (meaning that there are more children who identify on the LGBTQ spectrum than not), and in being so they are reported as more likely to be treated poorly, be hospitalized due to emotional trauma, or become incarcerated in Juvenile Justice Facilities. These facts are reported by the federally-funded R.I.S.E study. The removal of this data will negatively impact the ability to track and prevent outcomes such as these, including similar outcomes in Native children.They also assert many reasons why sexual orientation and gender identity question need to be included on foster care forms.
“LGBTQ and Native children are not a burden and that the notion of “streamlining” our adoption system by erasing them from data is appalling and abhorrent. When it comes to youth, we need to take every step necessary to ensure their safety and livelihood. This move by the Trump administration is a blatant attack on LGBTQ and Native people, and we will not let it go unchallenged,” the organization said in a statement.
To read the full comment or read about the Proposed Rule, visit: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=ACF-2018-0003-0094