House And Senate Committees Pass Tennessee Bill Protecting Religious Rights For Foster, Adoptive Families

Image: Bill Sponsors Rep. Mary Littleton & Sen. Paul Rose present HB2169/SB1738 in their respective chamber committees. Image Credit:

The Tennessee Conservative Staff –

Both the House and the Senate are moving forward with a bill that would protect Tennessee foster and adoptive families from being forced to support policies regarding sexual orientation and gender identity that violate the family’s moral or religious beliefs.

Senate Bill 1738 (SB1738), sponsored by Senator Paul Rose (R-Covington-District 32), was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.


In a roll call vote, the bill passed with 7 ayes, 1 nay, and 1 present not voting. Senator Sara Kyle (D-Memphis-District 30) voted against the legislation, while Senator London Lamar (D-Memphis-District 33) chose to pass on the vote.

The bill, along with its companion House Bill 2169 (HB2169), would enact the “Tennessee Foster and Adoptive Parent Protection Act.” It would prohibit the Department of Children’s Services from requiring that potential foster or adoptive families affirm policies on sexual orientation or gender identity that conflict with their religious or moral beliefs.

HB2169, sponsored by Representative Mary Littleton (R-Dickson-District 78), was recommended for passage by the Civil Justice Committee on Wednesday.

Littleton noted that the legislation was not intended to disregard the beliefs of a child as all placements should be made using a comprehensive list of factors.

Supporters of the bill noted that the bill assists in making sure that children were put in the best placements and also that much needed foster and adoptive parents would not be turned away completely because they would fear being forced into a situation that was not a fit for them.

Nanette Clark, a Nashville attorney who has served as a court-appointed child guardian and special judge in Davidson County Juvenile Court, said the bill could lead to trauma for LGBTQ children in state custody.

A voice vote was taken in the House with ayes prevailing. No representative requested to be recorded as voting against the bill.

Both bills will be sent to their respective calendar committees to be scheduled to be heard by the full House and Senate.

The Tennessee Lookout reports that the U.S. The Department of Health and Human Services last year proposed new rules for “safe and appropriate placement” of LGBTQI+ youth in state foster care systems – proposing rules to further the DCS’s current “LBGTQ-affirming” policies.

Among the proposed rules are that foster homes “facilitate the child’s access to age-appropriate resources, services, and activities that support their health and well-being” and if the child wishes, “gender affirming” medical care, which is currently barred by Tennessee law.

In November, Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti, joined by counterparts in 16 other states, publicly opposed the rules, saying they would shrink the pool of available foster families willing to care for kids.

The proposed rules would “further divert resources away from protecting foster children from physical abuse and toward enforcing compliance with controversial gender ideology,” Skrmetti wrote.

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