HARRISBURG – Attorney General Josh Shapiro today said he is co-leading a coalition of Attorneys General to, once again, stand up to the Trump administration following its latest effort to undermine the rights of LGBTQ individuals and families.
Under a new federal proposal, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is attempting to eliminate explicit anti-discrimination language used in regulations governing federal grants that guarantees equal access to programs administered across the country.
The proposal would apply to a broad range of HHS grant programs, including maternal and child health grants, federally-assisted health training programs, Head Start programs, and mental health and substance abuse grants. LGBTQ families who foster and adopt children are among the most likely to be harmed by potentially being excluded from participation in federally funded child-welfare programs.
“This heartless proposal would do nothing to help Pennsylvanians or our fellow Americans,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “In fact, it would send us backwards by depriving our sons, daughters and neighbors from receiving the very services all of our tax dollars pay to deliver without discrimination.”
Under the proposed rule, HHS would eliminate explicit protections for “age, disability, sex, race, color, national origin, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation” and replace them with a generic prohibition based on federal statute.
The Trump administration is currently working to undermine Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court that it does not protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
In its comment letter, the coalition of Attorneys General, which is also being led by California and Massachusetts, said HHS’ proposed rule is arbitrary, capricious, and lacked explanation.
“Our nation has many children in need of safe, loving homes. Hundreds of thousands of children across the country are already in the foster care system, and the proposed rule would create unnecessary barriers that impede qualified LGBTQ families from caring for these vulnerable children,” Shapiro said.
There are an estimated 27,000 LGBTQ couples raising 58,000 children through adoption and foster-care across the United States. By allowing federally-funded grant recipients to discriminate against LGBTQ families, HHS would potentially deprive prospective LGBTQ foster and adoptive parents of the opportunity to provide a loving home to children in need.
A copy of the comment letter is available here.
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