Couples Barred from Foster Program for Christian Faith

( – Two couples are suing state officials in Vermont after they were kicked out of the foster care program for holding Christian beliefs and refusing to agree to affirm a child’s so-called “gender identity.”

On Tuesday, June 4th, Michael and Rebecca Gantt, and Brian and Kaitlyn Wuoti filed a lawsuit against Vermont officials in the state’s Department of Children and Families (DCF). According to the complaint, the state violated the two couples’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights by refusing to renew their licenses to practice foster care.

The plaintiffs alleged that the DCF’s refusal to renew their licenses was because the couples refused to follow the department’s policies on sexual orientation and so-called “gender identity.” The specific defendants in the case are DCF Commissioner Christopher Winters and DCF Family Services Division Deputy Commissioner Stacey Edmunds, the Director of Residential Licensing and Special Investigations.

The specific policy at the center of the complaint is DCF Policy 76, titled “Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Children and Youth.” It requires applicants to support a foster child’s choice of “hairstyles, clothing, and accessories” that affirm the “racial, cultural, tribal, religious, or gender identity” of that child. According to the complaint, it specifically “provides internal guidance” for DCF staff on the placement of foster children who identify as LGBT and training applicant families on how to support their specific gender expression, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

The complaint argues that the two couples were denied license renewal because of statements made in their applications that explained their Christian religious beliefs as well as their views “about the human body and sexual ethics.”

The attorney representing the plaintiffs is Johannes Widmalm-Delphonse of Alliance Defending Freedom who told reporters that the policy in Vermont violated the constitutional rights of his clients, who cannot be compelled to express something against their religious beliefs “as a condition of receiving a license” or government benefits of any kind. Widmalm-Delphonse claims that Vermont is trying to make parents “violate their sincerely-held religious beliefs” to “help vulnerable children.”

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