Trump Admin to Allow LGBTQ Discrimination Across HHS Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Trump administration has proposed a federal regulation that critics say will allow adoption and foster care agencies to receive federal grants, even if they choose to reject LGBTQ couples as potential parents for religious reasons.

“The Trump-Pence White House has proposed a horrific federal regulation that would permit discrimination across the entire spectrum of HHS programs receiving federal funding,” said Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization.


“This would permit discrimination against LGBTQ people, religious minorities, and women in programs related to foster care, adoption, HIV and STI prevention, youth homelessness, refugee resettlement, elder care programs and more," David continued. "It is unconscionable that the Trump-Pence administration would prioritize advancing discrimination over the wellbeing of vulnerable people and expect taxpayers to foot the bill for their discriminatory policies. The Trump-Pence White House is relying on the same flawed legal reasoning they’ve used in the past to justify discrimination against LGBTQ people and other communities.”

When the proposed regulation is formally published, the American people would only have 30 days to offer public comments, an unusually short period to consider a policy that would enable widespread discrimination against LGBTQ people, religious minorities, and women that do not align with the belief system of an HHS grant recipient. Furthermore, the Trump-Pence White House has declined to enforce existing non-discrimination requirements regarding sexual orientation, gender identity, religion and sex in programs that receive federal funding where the protection isn’t statutorily required while the proposed comment is pending.

“Shame on the Trump administration for permitting discrimination against LGBTQ parents," said DNC Chair Tom Perez and DNC LGBTQ Caucus Chair Earl Fowlkes in a joint statement. "The rules proposed by the Trump administration would roll back progress made under President Obama and pave the way for children to be denied loving homes and families. More than 100,000 children are awaiting adoption, and this move only reduces the number of families able to adopt them. This is just the latest in a long line of actions the Trump administration has taken to discriminate against LGBTQ people in health care, employment, military service, and housing. Trump promised to support LGBTQ Americans, but since taking office, his administration has done nothing but encourage discrimination and dismantle equality.”

This is the latest action since Trump and Pence took office that grants HHS recipients a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people, religious minorities, and women:

  • In May of 2017, the Trump-Pence White House put out an executive order mandating the Department of Justice to work agency by agency to regulatorily create broad exemptions allowing faith-based organizations to discriminate against those who do not agree with their personal beliefs.
  • In January of this year, Trump-Pence’s HHS granted a waiver from federal non-discrimination requirements to South Carolina’s Foster Care Program, which has contracted with a child welfare provider who seeks permission to refuse to serve prospective parents who do not share their religious beliefs, but who want to continue to receive federal funding to provide those services. South Carolina requested the waiver to allow federal funds to go to a child welfare agency that refused to work with Jewish and Catholic people who were otherwise eligible to support children in need.
  • This continues a pattern of citing court decisions unrelated to nondiscrimination laws to justify stripping away protections for LGBTQ people and others.

In 2017, HRC released a report, titled Disregarding the Best Interest of the Child: License to Discriminate In Child Welfare Services, detailing the harms of efforts to write anti-LGBTQ discrimination by child welfare agencies into law. Statistics suggest that an estimated two million LGBTQ adults in the U.S. are interested in adoption, but the LGBTQ community often remains an untapped resource when it comes to finding families for children and youth in foster care. The report debunks the myth that having more providers is the key to higher rates of placement in homes; the bottleneck is not the number of providers, but the number of prospective parents. Where providers have ceased to provide services rather than comply with nondiscrimination laws, placement rates did not decrease significantly as a result.

Further, research consistently shows that LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in the foster care system, as many have been rejected by their families of origin because of their LGBTQ status, and are especially vulnerable to discrimination and mistreatment while in foster care. This regulation would only exacerbate these challenges faced by LGBTQ young people.