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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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Kids Pay the Price


Freedom of religion is an important American value, which is why it is already protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. That freedom doesn’t give people the right to impose their beliefs on others or to discriminate. Yet a growing number of states, and the federal government, have passed or are considering legislation that would allow child placement and adoption agencies to do just that, while providing government services paid for with taxpayer money.

In 2018, Kansas, South Carolina and Oklahoma, passed these adoption discrimination bills. This brings the number of states that permit taxpayer-funded discrimination to eight (though two more states, Michigan and Alabama, permit discrimination by agencies that do not receive state contracts).

The “Kids Pay the Price” ad warns what could happen when states allow child service agencies to put individual beliefs before the best interests of children. When states allow child services decisions to be based on religious beliefs and not the best interests of children, it’s kids who pay the price.

Watch the "Kids Pay the Price" ad and take action! Learn more at Every Child Deserves a Family.



Related Resources

Policy Brief

Kids Pay the Price: How Discriminatory Adoption and Foster Care Laws Harm Children

January 2019  - This policy brief, authored by MAP and the Family Equality Council, in partnership with the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), offers a snapshot of the impact of discriminatory foster and adoption laws on the thousands of children waiting to be adopted in the states where these laws currently exist, the high stakes of passing similar laws in other states, and offers recommendations for supporting children in care.

Report

CREATING A LICENSE TO DISCRIMINATE: 2018 FEDERAL CHILD WELFARE AMENDMENT

July 2018 – An amendment to a federal appropriations bill seeks to create a license to discriminate for child welfare providers, prioritizes the interests of providers over the welfare of children, reduces the likelihood that the most vulnerable children will find stability, and cuts more than $1.04 billion to state child welfare budgets. The more than 395,000 children in the child welfare system across the country will pay the price.

Report

Putting Children at Risk: How Efforts to Undermine Marriage Equality Harm Children

June 2018 – Authored by MAP and the Family Equality Council Putting Children at Risk: How Efforts to Undermine Marriage Equality Harm Children highlights how recent efforts to undermine marriage equality and protections for LGBT families pose a profound threat to the children in these families.

Report

Kids Pay the Price: How Religious Exemptions for Child Welfare Services Harm Children

 September 2017  - This report details how religious exemptions for child welfare providers hurt children and vulnerable families. Agencies that provide services to children and parents should focus on providing loving, stable homes for children and helping families in need. Instead, these laws encourage and enable adoption agencies and their workers to reject qualified parents who don’t share the agency’s or worker’s religious beliefs.

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