Tag: discrimination

LGBTQ Persecution in the Child Welfare System

This week the U.S. Supreme Court took on the case of whether taxpayer-funded agencies can use religion to discriminate. Two years ago, the city of Philadelphia rightfully decided to cut ties with Catholic Social Services (CSS) after a report detailed that they were openly prohibiting same-sex couples from fostering children. CSS and a number of foster parents sued the city, claiming it violated their first amendment rights to religious freedom. Now the case will be heard by the SCOTUS.


Texas has its own sordid history passing legislation that codifies discrimination in the child welfare arena under the guise of religious freedom. In 2017, Republican State Representative James Frank filed and ultimately passed HB 3859. HB 3859 allows faith-based organizations to deny foster children home placements and healthcare services and to refuse capable, deserving parents from fostering if they violate the organization’s “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Following a chorus of outcries from LBGTQ organizations and foster care system employees, House Democrats put up a strong fight on the floor in opposition to this bill. 


Texas has an infamously overcrowded and understaffed foster care system, a problem that is found across the country. Between 400,000 to 500,000 children live in foster care in the United States, many in derelict facilities. It is extremely difficult to find capable, loving, willing adults to foster each and every child in need. The thought of allowing state-affiliated agencies to prohibit loving foster parents from offering homes to children in desperate need of stability is tremendously upsetting. 


Religious organizations are not required to partner with the state. Therefore, to receive taxpayer funding, organizations should at the very least adhere to common-sense anti-discriminatory federal regulations.


Unfortunately, the conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court may very well use their majority to defend regressive, discriminatory foster cases, claiming they are in fact “expanding religious freedoms.” Ruling in favor of CSS would loosen anti-discriminatory policies at the expense of real children in need of loving homes. 


We cannot afford to backslide from our already limited LGBTQ protections.


Photo courtesy of NBC News.

Hair Love Missing in Texas: TLBC Announces Plan to File CROWN Act

Discrimination remains an active and poisonous force throughout Texas. House Democrats have the responsibility to fight policies that oppress members of our community. It is our duty to create an equitable playing field, where all voices, religions, traditions, and races are represented and celebrated. 


DeAndre Arnold’s story spurred a long-ignored conversation in Texas. As a graduating high-school senior, Arnold was suspended for refusing to shave his dreadlocks and will not be allowed to walk at graduation. Now a national icon, Arnold’s is sadly not alone. In Pearland, a high school student had to choose between filling in his shaved hair with Sharpie or suspension. A 4-year old in Tatum was given instructions to cut off or braid his shoulder-length hair, otherwise he could wear a dress and be referred to as a girl. 


These school policies are blatantly discriminating against students of color, and the defenders of these hateful practices are falling back on the age old adage, “that’s how it’s always been done.” That is a pitifully lazy excuse that ignores the pain and legacy of hair discrimination. 


Last week, the Texas Legislative Black Caucus (TLBC) held a press conference to announce their plans to file the CROWN Act “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair” in the 87th Legislative Session. Rep. Ron Reynolds (D- Missouri City) and Rep. Rhetta Bowers (D-Garland) will be jointly filing this legislation. The CROWN Act expands the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and Education Code to include anti-discriminatory policies in the workplace, K-12 public schools, and charter schools. Three states have already adopted this policy change and it has been introduced in both federal chambers. Twenty-two additional states are now considering passage. 


“These conversations are just becoming public now… People in our community were having these conversations around the kitchen table or in beauty salons and barber shops.” – Rep. Rhetta Bowers (D-Garland) 


Texas House Democrats fully support TLBC’s plan to file protections against discriminatory measures in our schools. We urge schools to take a hard look at their own hair regulations. Are your policies protecting students or unjustly hurting them?


Photo courtesy of KUT.