California lawmakers are debating a bill that would force foster parents to use any transgender pronouns that their foster children want.
Supporters say it's the best way to care for youth who believe they're transgender but opponents say it will force out foster parents with religious beliefs that conflict.
These opponents argue that California can't afford to lose any more foster parents.
But the bill's sponsor, California Assemblyman Mike Gibson (D-Compton), argues that this transgender pronoun mandate will attract more foster parents.
"I think this bill has great potential of one, increasing parents taking in foster children," Gibson said in a hearing in front of the Assembly Human Services Committee, responding to a legislator's direct question over whether his bill "helps get more foster parents."
In his opposition testimony, California Family Council representative Greg Burt said the policy would be harmful.
"Forcing Christian foster parents to refer to their foster children as the wrong gender is forcing them to affirm what they believe is a lie. And not only a lie, but harmful to the child," Burt testified.
"Many foster parents are people of faith. They seek to obey and follow God by loving and serving others. Foster parents are heroes that you should be respecting, not driving away," he said.
The measure adds the following new rights to the current "Foster Youth Bill of Rights":
- The right to be referred to by one's preferred name and gender pronoun;
- The right to receive adequate clothing, grooming, and hygiene products, that reflex a child's sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression;
- The right to attend school clubs, parades, and other activities consistent with the child's age, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression;
- The right to have reasonable access to computer technology and the internet.
"These new rights are going to put Christian foster parents in an impossible position," California Family Council President Jonathan Keller said in a press release.
"Either they will violate this law by remaining faithful to their biblical beliefs about the biological/binary nature of gender, or they will violate their faith by affirming the confused gender feelings of their foster care children. Why would the state want to push Christian foster parents out of the system, when foster parents are already in short supply?" Keller asked.