Earlier this year, President Obama became the first president to acknowledge transgender people in a State of the Union address. Now he appears to be the first president to explicitly say gender identity shouldn't prevent anyone from adopting or becoming a foster parent.
The historic show of support was part of a proclamation issued by the White House Thursday—about two weeks after elected officials in Florida debated whether some agencies in the state could ban LGBT couples from becoming foster care parents.
“With so many children waiting for loving homes, it is important to ensure all qualified caregivers have the opportunity to serve as foster or adoptive parents, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status,” President Obama wrote.
In a 2009 proclamation Obama said his administration supported "adoption rights" for LGBT Americans. His latest comments, however, explicitly mention gender identity.
A number of states including Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, and Nebraska do not allow LGBT people to adopt or become a "second parent” to a child of a sex-partner with a child, according to an analysis by the Human Rights Campaign.
In his latest proclamation Obama also noted LGBT youth should be protected.
“All young people, regardless of what they look like, which religion they follow, who they love, or the gender they identify with, deserve the chance to dream and grow in a loving, permanent home,” he wrote.
“We’re thrilled that President Obama has recognized explicitly that LGBTQ youth in foster care, like all youth, deserve safe, loving, permanent homes if they can’t safely return home. And that LGBT foster and adoptive parents are a vastly underutilized resource,” said Currey Cook, director of the Youth in Out-of-Home Care Project at Lambda Legal, the nation’s oldest legal organization representing the interest of the LGBT community.
“Only a handful of states have explicit protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in their child welfare systems. In order to realize the President’s incredibly important goals, youth and potential foster and adoptive parents must know they will be safe and treated equitably,” Cook told Fusion.
The vast majority of transgender parents report that their relationships with their children are good or positive, including after “coming out” as transgender or transitioning, according to a 2014 analysis by UCLA’s Williams Institute, a think tank that studies the intersection of sexual orientation, gender identity and public policy.