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Fostering confusion

Illinois’s child welfare agency now requires that any individual working with a child in its system support LGBT rights.

The new policy, signed and implemented May 6 by Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) director George Sheldon, is intended to promote the “well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) children and youth in the department’s care.”

Effectively immediately, the DCFS “will not tolerate exposing LGBTQ children and youth to staff/providers who are not supportive of children and youths’ right to self-determination of sexual/gender identity.”

Under the new policy, staff and volunteers must affirm children’s exploration of sexuality and provide affirming care “regardless of one’s personal attitudes, beliefs, preconceptions and/or judgments, if any, surrounding matters of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.”

Staff members risk losing their jobs if they are not able to affirm the policy.

To ensure uniformity, staff, providers, foster parents, and volunteers must undergo regular “LGBTQ competency” training regardless of whether they currently serve LGBTQ children. Agencies that partner with DCFS must also require the training for their employees and volunteers.

And while caseworkers are now required to inform the newly created staff position of state LGBTQ coordinator about any sexual orientation or gender identity issues involving any child in the system, the child’s parents are not allowed to know. While in state care, a child’s parents also have no say about whether a child will receive puberty blockers or hormone treatment.

“Illinois has decreed its own ‘truth’ about the human person and served notice that it will muzzle the speech and religious beliefs of employees, caregivers, professionals, and cooperating agencies who think otherwise,” wrote Mary Rice Hasson, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “The only winners are progressive activists and lawyers eager to fill their litigation dockets. The losers? Illinois’ most vulnerable children.”

— by Kiley Crossland

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