Christian couple sues Washington over foster children at Pride event

Christian couple sues Washington over foster children at Pride event

Christian couple in Washington state has filed a federal lawsuit against officials responsible for not renewing their foster care license over their objection to extreme state regulations about affirming children’s gender confusion, which their Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys say go so far as to require taking them to LGBT “pride” events.

Shane and Jennifer DeGross have been foster parents since 2013, during which they have cared for four girls, ranging from a newborn to two three-year-olds. They “have a heart for serving children in [their] community” and their “faithful ministry to children in Washington has been a blessing,” according to Olive Crest, the foster care licensing agency that was representing them.

When seeking to renew their license in August 2022, they were informed of regulations that had since been adopted by the Washington Department of Children, Youth, & Families (DCYF), concerning “care that is appropriate for the child’s age, SOGIE [Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity & Expression], and development.”

The requirements include “[a]ctivities that promote the development of each child” such as “cultural and educational activities in your home and the community,” i.e., “pride” events; “connect[ing] a foster child with resources that supports and affirms their needs [sic] regarding race, religion, culture, and SOGIE”; and “support a foster child’s SOGIE by using their pronouns and chosen name, and respecting the child’s right to privacy concerning their SOGIE.”

“To assess whether a caregiver will support a child’s SOGIE, an agency asks whether the caregiver will use chosen pronouns, display ‘Pride flags or similar indicators,’ or take a child to [homosexual]-pride parades,” Alliance Defending Freedom’s brief states.

The couple responded that they would love and support any child in their care but could not in good conscience reinforce falsehoods about their sex, so DCYF denied their application for renewal despite multiple appeals.

“Washington state officials are putting their own ideological agenda ahead of children who just need a loving home,” says ADF attorney Johannes Widmalm-Delphonse. “Despite the DeGrosses’ faithful service as foster parents for nine years, the state disqualified them simply for having views that Washington does not like. As a federal court has already affirmed in Blais v. Hunter, this exclusion is unconstitutional—religious beliefs about human sexuality are not a legitimate or constitutional reason to categorically bar citizens from helping children. Washington is putting families like the DeGrosses to an impossible choice: speak against your faith and lie or give up the opportunity to care for hurting children. That is illegal and wrong.”

ADF’s brief notes that Washington is turning away the DeGrosses at a time when the state cannot afford to spare anyone willing to provide for children in need. “As of June 30, 2021, 6,959 children and youth ages zero to seventeen were placed in out-of-home care,” yet “Washington suffers from ‘a shortage of caregivers willing and able to be a respite or placement resource.'”

According to the Washington State Family and Children’s Ombuds 2023 annual report, “[d]ue to a chronic lack of placement resources, particularly for children with complex needs, for years DCYF has housed children in unlicensed placements such as hotels or night-to-night licensed foster homes until an appropriate placement became available.”

Further, contrary to the Washington government’s pretense of acting in children’s best interests, a significant body of evidence shows that “affirming” gender confusion carries serious harms, especially when done with impressionable children who lack the mental development, emotional maturity, and life experience to consider the long-term ramifications of the decisions being pushed on them, or full knowledge about the long-term effects of life-altering, physically-transformative, and often-irreversible surgical and chemical procedures.

Studies find that more than 80% of children experiencing gender dysphoria outgrow it on their own by late adolescence, and that even full “reassignment” surgery often fails to resolve gender-confused individuals’ heightened tendency to engage in self-harm and suicide — and may even exacerbate it, including by reinforcing their confusion and neglecting the actual root causes of their mental strife.

The pro-LGBT Biden administration’s own Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released a since-deleted report last year acknowledging that “lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults are more likely than straight adults to use substances, experience mental health conditions including major depressive episodes, and experience serious thoughts of suicide.”

Moreover, homosexuality results in serious physical harms. Practitioners of sodomy face a nearly 30-times higher risk of HIV and a 80-times higher rate of anal cancer, as well as elevated risks of other cancers and STDs, as Catholic pro-family organization Fieles a la Verdad has detailed.

Washington is among the most socially liberal states in the Union. Its laws protect traveling from other states for abortions and underage gender “transitions,” its schools mandate “LGBT history” and distribute cross-sex hormones, and it forces religious entities to hire personnel who reject their values.