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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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Discriminatory Policies Deny Forever Homes to Thousands of Foster Children Awaiting Adoption

Qualified LGBT Families Are Ready to Provide Loving, Permanent Homes, But Are Barred From Doing So

Washington, DC, June 13, 2012 — A new report released today highlights how archaic and discriminatory laws are making it harder to find adoptive families for 107,000 children in foster care who are awaiting adoption. In a majority of states, children may be denied forever homes by qualified and loving parents simply because the parents who want to provide that home are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

Finding Children Forever Homes: LGBT Foster and Adoptive Families, was co-authored by the Movement Advancement Project, the Family Equality Council and the Center for American Progress in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Human Rights Campaign. The report shows that as of 2010, there were more than 408,000 children in foster care and 107,000 of these were awaiting adoption. Of the 107,000 children waiting to be adopted, 60% had been waiting more than two years while 16% had been waiting more than five years for permanent “forever” homes.

“It’s not in the best interest of the 107,000 children in foster care waiting for a permanent home to be denied placements with qualified families for any reason,” said Jennifer Chrisler, Family Equality Council Executive Director. “No child should be denied the love, care and stability that comes with a forever home simply because of bias against parents who are LGBT.”

“Despite being qualified, willing and ready to foster and adopt children, LGBT parents are often barred from doing so by outdated and discriminatory laws, policies or practices,” said Chad Griffin, Human Rights Campaign President. “Federal and state-level policymakers should take immediate steps to remove barriers faced by LGBT foster and adoptive parents, including passing laws that provide explicit nondiscrimination protections.”

“Americans know that LGBT parents are providing loving, stable homes for children,” said Jeff Krehely, Vice President of LGBT Research and Communications at the Center for American Progress. “The majority of Americans support allowing LGBT-headed households to foster and adopt, and it’s time for our laws to reflect that support.”

Finding Children Forever Homes: LGBT Foster and Adoptive Families includes targeted recommendations designed to ensure that LGBT families can help fill the need for loving, stable foster and adoptive homes for children. It is based on content from All Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequalities Hurt LGBT Families, a report which provides one of the most comprehensive portraits to date of the wide range of obstacles facing LGBT families in America. It also offers detailed recommendations for eliminating or reducing inequities and improving the lives of children with LGBT parents. For more information, visit www.lgbtmap.org/lgbt-families, www.familyequality.org or www.americanprogress.org.

About the Authors
Founded in 2006, the Movement Advancement Project is an independent think tank that provides rigorous research, insight and analysis that help speed equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. www.lgbtmap.org

Celebrating its 30th Anniversary, Family Equality Council connects, supports, and represents the one million lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents in this country and the two million children they are raising. www.familyequality.org

The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” www.americanprogress.org

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all. www.hrc.org

The ACLU is our nation’s guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country. www.aclu.org

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Media Contacts:
Calla Rongerude
Movement Advancement Project (MAP)
(415) 205-2420
calla@lgbtmap.org

Paul Guequierre
Formerly of Human Rights Campaign

Steve Majors
Family Equality Council
(202) 664-0079
smajors@familyequality.org

Robyn Shepherd
ACLU
(212) 519-7829
rshepherd@aclu.org

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