“Becoming a foster parent is not a right, it’s a privilege.” That’s what Sandy Santana, executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group Children’s Rights, told The New York Times last week. He was explaining why he thought that states had authority to ban foster parents from legally carrying guns, as Michigan has recently done.
It’s surely true that not everyone is fit to take in a child who has been abused, neglected or abandoned. Yet instead of focusing on real issues of child safety, they’re pushing their own social agenda.
Bill Johnson is suing Michigan over the rule, which will bar him from carrying a gun if he wants to act as a foster parent to his own grandson (who was removed from his mother’s care). Johnson is a former Marine and longtime hunter. He and his wife own a fishing-tackle shop. He has several guns that he keeps locked up and one that he has a permit to carry.
As he told the Times, child-services workers “told me flat out, ‘You are going to have to give up some constitutional rights here if you want to keep that boy.’?”
Some child-welfare bureaucrats are simply uninformed or unfamiliar with life in rural America. Another longtime foster parent in Maryland recently wrote a story about how she was no longer allowed to take in children because she lived on a farm and kids might be harmed by equipment or falling in her barn.
But if it were simply about safety, there are a whole lot of other features that would be banned from foster homes, like swimming pools. Citing 2010 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, economist John Lott wrote, “For all children younger than 10, there were 36 accidental gun deaths, and that is out of 41 million children [and] two-thirds . . . involving young children are not shots fired by other little kids but rather by adult males with criminal backgrounds.” By contrast, 609 children drowned that same year.
So this is clearly about ideology. Parents with guns cannot be good parents. Neither can parents who don’t think gender is a social construct. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services recently announced that it “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.”
According to DCFS children have a “right to self-determination of gender and sexual orientation,” and individual choices about “sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression” should be viewed as “developmental milestones, not problematic behavior.” The role of adults is simply to “facilitate exploration of any LGBTQ matters through an affirming approach . . . by being open, non-judgmental, and empathic.”
New York City takes a similar approach. According to the Administration for Children’s Services Web site, the agency “is committed to providing all youth and families served by Children’s Services and our contracted provider agencies a safe, healthy, inclusive, affirming and discrimination-free environment.” Children’s Services workers must not “ignore safety or risk concerns when it is discovered that the foster parent . . . will not purchase clothing corresponding to the [Transgender/Gender Nonconforming] young person’s gender identity [or] refuses to address the TGNC young person by preferred name/pronoun.”
Not only must foster parents promise that they’ll refer to girls in their charge as “he” if that’s what the child prefers, they must also buy dresses for their boys. Or they’ll be considered a “safety risk.”
In addition to its gun-control requirements for foster families Children’s Rights also suggests that more states need to “require affirming placement and classification procedures; promote healthy gender identity development and expression; mandate affirming gender-responsive programming and activities while in care; and provide clear and ongoing training and competency requirements for staff.”
This isn’t the first time foster care has been used to promote social agendas. Well into the 1990s, foster-care workers would only place children for care or adoption with parents of the same race. Social workers were taught that only parents who shared their children’s skin color could be culturally competent to raise them.
In 1996, Congress banned this practice and encouraged “colorblind adoption.” Today, activists and bureaucrats are again trying to determine which parents are fit to raise children based on their own ideological agenda and cultural prejudices rather than on the most important factor: Will this family provide a safe, stable and loving environment for a child in need?
?Naomi Schaefer Riley is a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.