Texas’ Largest Archdiocese Seeks Exemption From Federal Anti-Discrimination Rule

An Obama-era rule prevents foster care providers from discriminating against people that identify as LGBTQ. The Galveston-Houston archdiocese says it wants to provide care in accordance with the beliefs of the Catholic Church.

By Jill Ament & Rhonda FanningNovember 18, 2019 6:52 am, ,

Texas’ largest archdiocese is challenging a federal rule meant to prevent discrimination agaisnt LGBTQ people looking to offer services through the state foster care system. The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston wants to start offering foster care services, but also wants to be exempt from repercussions if it denies services to foster parents who identify as LGTBQ. Leaders say they want the ability to operate in accordance with the tenets of the Catholic Church.

But some in the foster care community say that allowing such an exemption could destabilize a system already struggling to serve young Texans.

Will Francis is executive director of the Texas chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. He says the archdiocese has support from Texas officials, including Attorney General Ken Paxton, along with the Department of Family and Protective Services.

“They’re challenging an Obama-era rule that would protect a person from discrimination based on gender identity or sexuality,” Francis says. “They feel that to recruit the type of parents that they want to see as foster parents, they have to be really specific to what their values are.”

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– Who would be affected by the exemption

– How limiting eligibility based on sexual or gender identity could put more strain on the Texas foster care system

– How Catholic organizations can work with the state to provide foster care under the current rules


Written by Shelly Brisbin.

Note: An earlier version of the headline for this story incorrectly referred to a  federal foster care rule.