A Catholic couple are suing a children’s service in Massachusetts after they were allegedly rejected from becoming foster carers because of their anti-trans views.
Court documents seen by Newsweek, and filed on Tuesday (8 August), report that Michael and Catherine Burke had their foster care application denied in April because of concerns about their responses regarding caring for an LGBTQ+ child.
The couple, who have problems with infertility, wanted to become foster parents before adopting, and attempted to do so through the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF).
After being informed of their rejection, the couple “expressed frustration” and accused the DCF of “being discriminatory based on their religion,” according to emails seen by Newsweek.
“DCF’s actions are discriminatory and unconstitutional,” said the court documents, which demand a change on their file, to remove ‘discriminatory’ statements, and a request for compensatory damages.
The DCF reportedly said the application was denied “based on the couple’s statements/responses regarding placement of children who identified LGBTQIA”, which went against its regulations.
DCF regulations for fostering and adopting children were last updated on 6 January and state that foster parents must “promote the physical, mental and emotional well-being of a child placed in his or her care, including supporting and respecting a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity”.
The DCF added that the family, who are practising Catholics, would not be “affirming” to a child who identified as LGBTQ+ , but the Burkes argued in their claim that they would never reject a child, adding that they hold strong religious beliefs about gender-affirming care.
“As faithful Catholics, the Burkes believe that all children should be loved and supported, and they would never reject a child placed in their home,” the documents state.
“They also believe that children should not undergo procedures that attempt to change their God-given sex, and they uphold Catholic beliefs about marriage and sexuality.”
Lawsuit asks for removal of discriminatory statements
The Burkes’ lawsuit accuses the DFC of attempting to ban Catholic families from fostering children and says the service cannot use the standards “to operate as a religious exclusion for potential foster parents”.
It further asked the DFC to “expunge or amend the Burkes’ file so that it no longer reflects [the] defendants’ discriminatory statements, actions… and to take any further appropriate actions to prevent further harm from the discriminatory denial”.