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Oklahoma Bill Would Place Trans Kids in Homes That Don’t Support Their Identity

Oklahoma conservatives have introduced dozens of anti-LGBTQ bills this session.

The Oklahoma State Capitol is pictured in Oklahoma City.

Right-wing lawmakers in Oklahoma have proposed legislation that could place transgender children in adoptive or foster homes that do not support their gender identity.

Senate Bill 1677, authored by Sen. Julie Daniels (R), aims to prevent the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) from mandating that potential foster and adoptive parents endorse a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity if it contradicts the prospective parents’ “sincerely held religious or moral beliefs.” If a potential adoptive or foster parent’s application is denied because of their religious beliefs regarding sexual orientation or gender identity, they will have the ability to seek injunctive relief, compensatory damages, and reasonable attorney fees in court.

LGBTQ youth are disproportionately represented in the U.S. foster system, with approximately one in three young people in foster care identifying as LGBTQ. These children often face prejudice and discrimination within the system, with 78 percent of LGBTQ youth being removed or running away from their foster placements due to anti-LGBTQ sentiments. Given their increased susceptibility to verbal and physical abuse, conversion therapy, and family rejection, LGBTQ youth in foster care were three times more likely to report a suicide attempt over the past year compared to their heterosexual, cisgender counterparts.

Studies have consistently demonstrated that familial acceptance of LGBTQ children has a substantial positive influence on their emotional and behavioral wellbeing. Transgender children exhibit fewer symptoms of depression and suicidal ideation when their families respect their chosen name and pronouns, and trans children whose parents support their social transition report lower rates of anxiety and distress compared to those whose parents do not.

Daniels’s recently proposed bill is one of dozens of anti-LGBTQ bills being considered by Oklahoma lawmakers this legislative session. Since December 8, conservative lawmakers in the state have introduced 36 anti-LGBTQ bills, including a de facto ban on adult gender-affirming care, a ban on the use of state funds to promote or recognize pride month, and legislation to remove furries from schools by calling animal control in response to a fake story circulated last year by right-wing figures like Joe Rogan and Tulsi Gabbard and the account Libs of Tiktok.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), an overwhelming 285 anti-LGBTQ bills have already been introduced in the 2024 legislative session. Last year, a record number of anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced in state legislatures across the country, with 84 anti-LGBTQ bills passing into law. These country-wide legislative attacks on LGBTQ rights prompted the Human Rights Campaign to issue an unprecedented national state of emergency for LGBTQ Americans. Unfortunately, LGBTQ advocates are anticipating that legislative attacks on LGBTQ rights this session will surpass the 2023 record.

“Transgender people across the country are enduring a historic and dangerous effort to control our bodies and our lives, fueled by extremist politics with the goal of erasing us from public life,” ACLU attorney Harper Seldin told The Hill. “Taken together, these proposals are a blatant effort to deny transgender people the freedom to be ourselves at school, at work, and the support of the medical care many of us need to live.”

In the face of an escalating anti-LGBTQ campaign led by right-wing lawmakers nationwide, familial support is becoming increasingly crucial. In a recent study by the Trevor Project, nearly one in three LGBTQ youths said they have consistently poor mental health, attributing it to the ongoing surge in anti-LGBTQ legislation. Statistics also indicate that 41 percent of LGBTQ young people have contemplated suicide in the past year, with almost one in five trans and nonbinary young people having attempted suicide.

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