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January 1, Religious Couple Fights State on Denial Of Foster Care



A Washington couple is suing the state, claiming they were denied the opportunity to foster children due to their religious beliefs about gender identity. Shane and Jennifer DeGross filed a federal lawsuit on March 25 against Washington officials at the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF). They allege their application was denied because they refused to use a foster child’s inaccurate pronouns based on perceived gender identity instead of biological sex.

In August 2022, the DeGrosses sought to renew their foster-care license after serving as foster parents for nearly nine years. However, new state regulations required all parents to adopt the government’s ideology on gender, and failure to comply meant their application would be denied. As Christians, the DeGrosses told the agency they would love and accept any child but could not lie to a child and encourage them to reject their sex.

“There’s a huge need in the state of Washington for foster families to come alongside these children in need,” Shane DeGross said. “So, we definitely felt compelled to take up that charge.”

Over the course of nine years, the DeGrosses cared for four children. In renewing their license, they hoped to serve as respite-care providers for children without a stable home. Jennifer DeGross noted that there were over 4,000 instances in 2023 where kids were placed in emergency housing like hotel rooms due to a shortage of homes. “It’s really unfortunate and disheartening when they eliminate families such as ourselves that are willing to provide a loving home,” she said.

The state itself acknowledged the shortage of caregivers in its 2021-2022 “Annual Foster Parent and Adoptive Home Recruitment Report Draft.” The report revealed that foster children have had to sleep in hotels and office buildings as emergency placements.

ADF Legal Counsel Johannes Widmalm-Delphonse said this is not the first time Washington officials have tried to prevent parents from caring for their children because of disagreements with state ideology. In Blais v. Hunter, the Blais family sought to care for their great-granddaughter but were denied because they would not “support hormone therapy” in a hypothetical situation involving a child with gender dysphoria. The case ended with a permanent injunction against the discriminatory practices.

“Not only does it hurt children, but it violates the First Amendment,” Widmalm-Delphonse added. “This is all about freedom of speech and freedom of religion… It’s all about the welfare of the children.”

Washington State DCYF Communications Director Jason Wettstein told Fox News Digital that while they can’t comment on the specifics of legal action, they provided a statement affirming the importance of accepting gender identity. “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,” Wettstein said.

Shane DeGross hopes the lawsuit will lead the state to reverse course with its current “ideological litmus test” for foster parents. “At the end of the day, fewer families will be available to help these children in need as a result of these regulations,” he said. “Every child deserves a loving home and when the state, government ideology comes in front of the needs of the children, only children are harmed.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is fighting similar policies in other states, like Oregon, where a single mother is suing the state, claiming her Christian faith and beliefs about gender identity have prevented her from adopting.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Taxpayer

    April 4, 2024 at 1:35 pm

    Hopefully, the taxpayers of Washington will see the error of their ideological government. The best place this can be changed is at the voting booth. If that does not work then move to a more conservative state.

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