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The Tennessee Conservative [By Kelly M. Jackson] –
Among the stream of new legislation filed for consideration in the current session of the Tennessee General Assembly, are two new bills with the intended purpose of fortifying the individual rights of those who wish to, or currently participate in the foster care system as either foster parents or even those who are looking to adopt.
HB2169/SB1738 carried in the House by Representative Mary Littleton (R-D38-Dickson) and in the senate by Senator Paul Rose (R-D32-Lauderdale, Shelby Tipton Co), states:
“Adoption – As introduced, enacts the “Tennessee Foster and Adoptive Parent Protection Act,” which prohibits the department of children’s services from requiring an adoptive or foster parent to support a policy on sexual orientation or gender identity that conflicts with the parent’s sincerely held religious or moral beliefs. – Amends TCA Title 37.”
According to the state website, the bill enacts the “Tennessee Foster and Adoptive Parent Protection Act,” which prohibits the department of children’s services (“department”) from doing the following:
(1) Requiring a current or prospective adoptive or foster parent (“parent”) to affirm, accept, or support any government policy regarding sexual orientation or gender identity that conflicts with the parent’s sincerely held religious or moral beliefs;
(2) Denying a parent’s eligibility to foster or adopt based, in whole or in part, upon the parent’s sincerely held religious or moral beliefs regarding sexual orientation or gender identity;
(3) Establishing or enforcing a standard, rule, or policy that precludes consideration of a parent for a placement based, in whole or in part, upon the parent’s sincerely held religious or moral beliefs regarding sexual orientation or gender identity. However, such beliefs do not create a presumption that any particular placement is contrary to the best interest of the child.
If a parent’s rights are violated under this bill, then the parent may bring a civil action for injunctive relief, compensatory damages, reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, and expenses in a judicial or administrative proceeding. A parent may also raise a defense under this bill in a judicial or administrative proceeding.
The second bill being carried this session is HB1726/SB2359, carried in the House by Representative Ron Gant (R-D94-Piperton), and in the Senate by Senator Bo Watson (R-D11-Hixson).
As stated in the caption text on the state website, “Children’s Services, Dept. of – As introduced, prohibits the department of children’s services from requiring an immunization as a condition of adopting or overseeing a child in foster care if an individual or member of an individual’s household objects to immunization on the basis of religious or moral convictions. – Amends TCA Title 4; Title 36; Title 37 and Title 71.”
The intent of this bill is that it will prohibit any state agency from allowing those who have objected to or refused any vaccination on the basis of moral or religious reasons from being excluded as a participant in the foster care and adoption system in Tennessee.
Both sets of legislation has been assigned to the House Children & Family Affairs Subcommittee and the Senate Judiciary Committee. Neither has appeared on the calendar for hearing upon publication of this article.
We will continue to watch these bills, and inform the public of their next steps in the process, and what can be done to engage with your legislators regarding these two pieces of legislation.
About the Author: Kelly Jackson is a recent escapee from corporate America, and a California refugee to Tennessee. Christ follower, Wife and Mom of three amazing teenagers. She has a BA in Comm from Point Loma Nazarene University, and has a background in law enforcement and human resources. Since the summer of 2020, she has spent any and all free time in the trenches with local grassroots orgs, including Mom’s for Liberty Williamson County and Tennessee Stands as a core member. Outspoken advocate for parents rights, medical freedom, and individual liberty. Kelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.