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West Virginia Lawmakers Vote To Let Foster Care Agencies Turn Away LGBTQ Kids, Parents

The new rule stripping rights from LGBTQ children and adults goes to the rest of the Legislature for final approval next month.

Lawmakers in West Virginia voted Wednesday to advance a rule that would strip away rights from LGBTQ children and adults involved in foster care.

The updated rule passed 7-5 in the West Virginia Legislature’s rule-making review committee, the Beckley Register-Herald first reported. If finalized next month, it would removed existing protections for LGBTQ adults looking to foster and children who are in foster care by allowing the agencies to turn either away.

The rule, which would dictate how the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources implements existing law, was proposed by Del. Geoff Foster, a Republican from Putnam County. According to The Register-Herald, Foster’s proposal would require foster children and parents to have “equal access to services” only if they belong to “classes already protected by state and federal law.”

But, as the paper explained:

There are no protections for LGBTQ foster children or parents under state law. In November, the Trump administration also proposed reversing an Obama-era rule protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in programs funded by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, which would include foster care agencies.

HuffPost has reached out to Foster for comment.

Although the state DHHR had previously agreed to strengthen LGBTQ protections, DHHR attorney Cammie Chapman reportedly walked back that agreement Wednesday, saying the department could agree with Foster’s proposal.

The state has seen startling growth over the last decade of children being placed in foster care, with a 75% increase between 2010 and 2019, The Parkersburg News and Sentinel reported. In October, there were nearly 7,000 children in foster care, many due to opioid use by their parents, according to the publication.

Committee members who voted to strip the protections were all Republicans: Dels. Foster, Jim Butler, Brandon Steele and Patrick Martin, along with state Sens. Mark Maynard, Patricia Rucker and Dave Sypolt.

The new rule goes to the rest of the Legislature for final approval next month.

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