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WA officials seek to dismiss case of foster parents denied license over beliefs

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(The Center Square) – More states are now requiring foster parents to be accepting of minors exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Alliance Defending Freedom is representing two couples in Vermont who have lost their foster care licenses for refusing to adopt Vermont’s gender identify language for children in their care.

The cases are very similar to another ADF lawsuit here in Washington, brought by Shane and Jennifer DeGross.

As previously reported by The Center Square, the DeGross’s license renewal was denied after serving as foster parents for more than 9 years, because of their religious beliefs concerning gender identity policies now required for WA state foster families.

In March, the couple filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families.

“The state has since filed a motion to dismiss and get rid of the case,” said lead ADF attorney Johannes Widmalm-Delphonse. “But we feel very confident in our argument on the case. Shane and Jennifer, they just want to receive their license as soon as possible and help meet the need in Washington, which is so bad with kids being placed in hotels and unlicensed facilities.”

Widmalm-Delphonse told The Center Square, Washington officials refer to those situations as ‘placement exceptions.’

“Washington children were put in ‘placement exceptions’ more than 4,500 times in 2023, because there was no other place to take them,” he said.

Widmalm-Delphonse says in the DeGross case, ADF expects to file a response to the state’s motion to dismiss, sometime next week.

“We do get to respond and there is also a chance there may be discovery on what it was that happened (between the state and the DeGross’s) so we don’t know just yet what the judge is going to do, but we’re going to file that response,” said Widmalm-Delphonse. “I hope that we’ll have something this summer, but that is just a guess.”

ADF has also filed a case in Oregon on behalf of a woman trying to adopt.

“She was similarly turned away due to her Christian beliefs. She explained to them she couldn’t use inaccurate pronouns or take a child to a pride parade,” said Widmalm-Delphonse.

There are other lawsuits in New Jersey and Massachusetts brought by foster parents who’ve been turned away for refusing to accept those states’ gender ideology language mandates.

Widmalm-Delphonse says the real tragedy is the numbers of children who need foster homes.

“A lot of these kids are there because of the nations opioid epidemic, these are kids with special needs who have nowhere else to go.”

When The Center Square reached out to WA officials for comment on the DeGross case back in March, we received a statement via email from the Department of Children, Youth & Families.

“It is well-documented that children and youth who identify as LGBTQIA+ have high rates of depression, anxiety, suicide, self-harm and suicidal thoughts, or self-harm than youth who are cis-gender or straight.”

DCYF went on to say, “Whether a family accepts or rejects a child’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression (SOGIE) has a profound impact on their wellbeing, and children and youth who identify as LGBTQIA+ are over-represented among the foster care population. In Washington, we are committed to ensuring that these vulnerable children and youth do not experience additional trauma when placed out-of-home into foster care.”