Family Group Says 'Sensitivity' Training Bill Deters Foster Parents

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:04 PM EDT

( - A pro-family group is calling on California Gov. Gray Davis to veto a bill that requires "sensitivity" training for foster parents on homosexuality, bisexuality and trans-sexuality.

Assembly Bill 2651, as amended Aug. 8, 2002, was approved in a vote of 42-28 in the California State Assembly. It now goes to the desk of the governor, who is undecided on whether to sign it.

The Campaign for California Families (CCF) contends that the bill would place homosexuality, bisexuality and trans-sexuality in the foster care system for the first time in California history and "result in fewer foster parents," according to Randy Thomasson, executive director for CCF.

"Does Governor Gray Davis want to be known for promoting trans-sexuality within the foster care system? Foster children who have already suffered neglect and sexual abuse, are confused enough," Thomasson said.

"This ill-conceived bill will only make things worse. A.B. 2651 will result in a net loss of foster parents, because most foster parents have strong religious values. They will not sacrifice their freedom of religion and freedom of speech to the iron fist of big government," he added.

The measure also calls for recruiting "gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender foster parents" to raise foster kids with the same "cultural background."

CCF claims this would only lead to "more sexual confusion and may increase the risk of statutory rape."

The bill prohibits "discrimination based on the HIV or AIDS status of foster parents who are able to perform foster care responsibilities and of other foster household members." But the Campaign for California Families believes foster children would face the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS through "accidental transmission."

"It's amazing the chaos this bill could create," said Thomasson.

For example, "a teenage boy in foster care could declare himself transsexual. The foster parents would have to gulp hard and support his drag queen lifestyle. This means letting him wear girls' clothes under their own roof, around their biological children and even at school," he said.

"If the foster parents said 'you're a boy, not a girl,' this bill actually allows this confused teenager to report them to the state for committing a civil rights violation. It's outrageous to think that these good foster parents could be reported to the state and subjected to a government investigation. This bill is that crazy," Thomasson said.

The bill requires the establishment of a toll-free number by the Office of the State Foster Care Ombudsperson so that all foster kids can report if they are "physically, sexually or emotionally abused, regardless of whether the abuse is specifically related to his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Office of State Foster Care Ombudsperson would address complaints brought by all foster youth, "including gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender foster youth, regarding their care, placement and services," the bill states.

"The ombudsperson shall refer allegations of violations of licensing regulations to the Community Care Licensing Division, and shall refer allegations of civil rights violations to the Office of Civil Rights," it adds.

"This bill would pressure foster parents, most of whom have a strong religious faith, to accept, support and promote the transsexual, bisexual and homosexual agenda. This is a disincentive for individuals to become or remain foster parents," said Verne Teyler, executive director of Hosanna Homes, a private foster care agency, who spoke at CCF's news conferences.

Teyler argued that the bill would result in "discrimination and harassment of religious foster parents."

David Smith, spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, said he was not familiar with the bill and "had no interest in commenting" on the bill.

Calls to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) were not returned at press time.

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