Oklahoma’s Dangerous Gamble: A Bill That Ignores Trans Kids’ Identities in Foster Care

In a shocking move, Oklahoma’s right-wing legislators have introduced a bill that could place transgender children in adoptive or foster homes that actively disregard their gender identity. Senate Bill 1677, authored by Sen. Julie Daniels (R), essentially allows potential foster and adoptive parents to reject a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity if it clashes with their “sincerely held religious or moral beliefs.”

This proposed law blatantly ignores the harsh realities faced by LGBTQ youth in the foster care system. Statistics paint a grim picture: approximately one-third of foster youth identify as LGBTQ, with a staggering 78 percent having to leave or run away from placements due to anti-LGBTQ hostility. The potential for verbal and physical abuse, conversion therapy, and family rejection is alarmingly high, contributing to a troubling rate of suicide attempts among these vulnerable children.

The importance of family acceptance for LGBTQ kids cannot be overstated. Research has repeatedly shown that transgender children who receive support from their families exhibit significantly fewer symptoms of depression and suicidal ideation. A supportive environment, where chosen names and pronouns are respected, is crucial for the emotional and mental wellbeing of these children.

Sadly, SB 1677 is just the tip of the iceberg in Oklahoma’s legislative assault on LGBTQ rights. With 36 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced since early December, including a ban on adult gender-affirming care and attempts to delegitimize Pride Month, the state is at the forefront of a national crusade against LGBTQ individuals. In 2024 alone, an overwhelming 285 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced across the United States, exceeding last year’s record-breaking count.

The Human Rights Campaign has declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ Americans, highlighting the severity of these attacks. Harper Seldin from the ACLU points out the disturbing trend of these proposals, which aim to erase transgender people from public life, denying them fundamental freedoms at school, work, and in accessing medical care.

The Trevor Project’s recent study reveals the devastating impact of such legislation on LGBTQ youth’s mental health. Nearly one-third of these young people report consistently poor mental health, with 41 percent contemplating suicide in the past year. The rate is even higher among trans and nonbinary youth, with nearly one in five attempting suicide.

As Oklahoma and other states push for anti-LGBTQ legislation, the need for familial support and understanding becomes ever more critical. These laws not only undermine the rights and dignity of LGBTQ individuals but also jeopardize their lives. It is a call to action for all who believe in equality and human rights to stand against such harmful policies and advocate for the safety and well-being of all LGBTQ youth, particularly those in the foster care system.