Donald Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new rule on Friday that will allow government-funded faith-based organizations to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people and others. In addition to LGBTQ+ families looking to adopt, this new rule has implications for youth experiencing homelessness, HIV and STI prevention programs, as well as substance use recovery programs.
The rule rolls back a 2016 Obama-era regulation that protected LGBTQ+ people based on sexual orientation and gender identity when determining the recipients of grants from the agency. Now, foster care and adoption agencies who exclude LGBTQ+ families and others from their services under the guise of religious freedom will be allowed to receive taxpayer funding. It pushes forward and buttresses a religious freedom order campaign within this administration, which brings within it, untold dangers.
“Research has shown LGBTQ families provide the same kind of love, protection, and support as other families, and no child should be denied that kind of environment,” Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD, tells Out. “The Trump Administration has once again demonstrated how they prefer to prioritize the gross work of anti-LGBTQ activists over the safety and well-being of our children.”
But, it goes further than that. According to a press release from the National Center of Transgender Equality (NCTE) the rule will “allow anti-transgender discrimination in HIV and STI prevention programs, opioid programs, youth homelessness services, health professional training, substance use recovery programs,” among several other services addressing crises with a “disparate impact on transgender people in the US.”
The organization expanded on how the rule will hit those within the LGBTQ+ community, saying on Twitter that it would “eliminate the requirement that federally-funded organizations treat same-sex marriages as valid.”
According to the Daily Dot there is no way of knowing “which [organizations] will follow the rule and which will be inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community.” Because of this, the change may “disproportionately impact people living in rural and suburban areas” rather than major cities with large LGBTQ+ communities as well as populations that are thought to be more accepting.
“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,” Human Right’s Campaign President Alphonso David said in a statement. “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.”
The rule follows a slew of protections the Trump administration has cut for the LGBTQ+ community. Since the 2016 election, they have implemented, a ban on transgender people serving in the armed forces, reinterpreted laws that protected transgender youth in schools, and proposed nixing data collection on LGBTQ+ foster youth. This administration is also standing against protecting LGBTQ+ workers’ rights in a slate of Supreme Court cases.
The HHS announcement has been condemned by some Democratic lawmakers. Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, said the Trump administration is “working overtime to implement cruel and discriminatory policies, and wasting taxpayer dollars in its obsessive pursuit.” Wyden also said that countless families and children will suffer because of “this shameful decision.”
“Our nation is stronger when everyone has access to health care, education, housing, and other essential services, not when bigots in the White House seek to divide the country and deny basic rights to Americans,” Wyden said.
The rule is subject to a 30-day public comment period after it is posted in the Federal Register.