Karen Hagberg, Michael, Karen Burke discussed on The Takeaway

The Takeaway
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Automatic TRANSCRIPT

He said yes. Marie emily in the seventy social workers were quietly placing queer youth with gay and lesbian foster parents at a time. When homosexuality was criminalised in the us. How do you square the state sanctioned placement of these children with gay and lesbian families with the fact that states themselves were simultaneously anti lgbtq. It seems incredibly radical. But it's less so when you think about why it is that people were afraid of gay lesbian parents. No one was sure how it is. That people became gay right. There was this theory that dated back decades that people learn. Learn to be gay right. It wasn't innate trait but rather that people learned from role models and were indoctrinated into the so-called game lifestyle and so one of the big fears in the lesbian mother and gay father custody cases. Was that by allowing these parents to have custody of their children. The state was basically going to allow these children to grow up to be gay. What made the adoption and foster care. Context different is that these were self identified gay and lesbian teens so this harmful outcome that this fate had already fallen them. So it's not like gay. Lesbian parents could make the situation bad. And it was already there The the real shift And sort of radical move was when gain lesbian parents started. Fostering young children who didn't self identify in any particular way and at point. A lot of social science research had come out showing that parental sexual orientation had no impact on children's future sexual orientation. Social workers were much more comfortable with that. Michael what was it like for the foster parents themselves and and you spoke to some of them to hear from a social worker to get a call and for them to become parents sort of unexpectedly. Yeah i think the foster parent. I spoke to best exemplifies. This is karen burke who fostered a child in rochester new york around nineteen seventy two and the way she described it to me that it was such a surprising thing to be asked. That just couldn't turn it down. Just because it felt so revolutionary. She almost felt compelled to do it. and so the way it happened for her a newspaper article newspaper ad from nine hundred. Seventy two in which the County social services department had advertised in the game newspaper for rochester. Essentially saying we have this girl who's been in and out of the system this trans girl in their exact wording Something along the lines of we feel that a gay family would be the best placement. Karen hagberg doesn't remember exactly how she responded to that ad but at some point she did and she was at the time. Living with a girlfriend named kate In the two of them responded said they were interested and the county sent them over paperwork. And i mean. I mentioned also because the paperwork wasn't even really ready to have queer parents as foster parents for instance on the papers that they were assigned to fill out in order to register with the county assumed that the couple would be a man and a woman so karen and they literally just crossed out man and woman and instead wrote lovers and so the system although the county had reached out it wasn't necessarily equipped to deal with her parents and i also think a an important thing to note too that you know karen. Kate were in their early twenties at the time. And she like she did. Tell me that almost felt compelled to say yes because it was such a radical proposition in the first place. But i mean she. Herself was quick to admit that she didn't know that she was the most equipped to be a foster parent in the end. I think that was true of the foster parents that i did speak to. It just felt like how could you say no to this you know. They did their best. But i don't think any of them necessarily thought that they were as ready as they could have been. And then in terms of finding foster homes for these queer foster youth what ruled did activism. Play at this time really. I mean in terms of like just making sure that these kids were taken care of and highlighting these issues chosen workers were turning to gay lesbian rights groups and they were self identified as gay lesbian rights groups at the time as lgbtq And we're asking them to find foster parents for them. So some of these organizations like the mattachine society the national gain lesbian task force They were setting up formal programs to put social workers in touch with a potential foster parents. sort of these ads in enganed lesbian newspapers That michael described Are ones that Gay and lesbian rights organizations are are producing their circulating. There's also a sharp increase in the number of organizations addressing Game lesbian issues. There are specific lesbian mothers groups gay fathers groups and they provide networks of support for people who want to become parents marie emilie. Let's talk about today. Michael reported that only twenty five states prohibit agencies from discriminating against perspective parents on the basis of sexuality and gender identity and some agencies today continue to reject gay parents for foster placements because they're gay President obama barred such agencies from receiving federal funds. President trump reverse that meanwhile the supreme court is expected to rule this year on whether the city of philadelphia was within its rights to not renew a contract with catholic social services because that agency won't allow same sex couples to foster children. Could that supreme court case. Be a breaking point in in this Story that we've been talking about. It's been ongoing over the last four decades. So it's possible that the court will rule that these agencies can't discriminate based on sexual orientation it might also be the case that the court rules they can but there's also some possibilities in the middle. They could really narrowly tailor this and say look. These agencies are private agencies. But they're performing a quintessential public service right. Foster care has been a state program. They're working as agents of the state and so because of that were gonna treat them differently than say a private business. And so we're gonna say you're basically acting with the state's authority which means you have to follow the rules of the state. Imposes marie emilie. Michael thank you very much for taking the time. Thanks for having such marie emilie..

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