Vermont Families Blocked from Fostering Due to Christian Beliefs

Two Christian families in Vermont have taken legal action against the Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF) after being prevented from fostering children because of their religious beliefs. The Wuoti and Gantt families filed the lawsuit on Tuesday, arguing that their faith-based views on gender identity led to their disqualification as foster parents. An exclusive report by The Daily Signal highlighted Vermont’s urgent need for more foster families, with over 1,060 children in state care and only about 900 licensed foster homes.

The Wuoti family, who became foster parents in 2014 and adopted two brothers, had been highly regarded by case workers. However, their license renewal in 2022 was denied after they expressed their inability to support actions conflicting with their Christian beliefs on human sexuality. The Gantt family, who started fostering in 2016 and have four biological children, faced a similar situation. They were asked to take in a newborn from a homeless woman but were later required to sign a form agreeing to uphold the state’s views on gender ideology. When they refused, citing their religious beliefs, they were blocked from fostering.

The lawsuit states that both families were committed to loving and caring for any children placed with them but could not participate in activities that contradicted their faith. Mr. Gantt explained, “We were offered to be reeducated and given the choice to either revoke our foster license or take educational materials and change our faith within a year. I said, ‘No, we are not going to change our faith.’”

This legal battle sheds light on the conflict between religious freedom and state mandates on gender identity. In a similar case in Massachusetts, the Burkes, a Catholic family, were denied foster care licensing for not adhering to the state’s gender policies.

In September 2023, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) introduced new guidelines for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), emphasizing that “LGBTQ” foster children should be placed in affirming homes. Critics argue that such policies prioritize ideological conformity over the essential need to provide stable, loving homes for foster children.

The cases of the Wuoti and Gantt families illustrate a broader trend where adherence to specific ideologies is becoming a prerequisite for fostering, raising concerns about the future of religious freedom and child welfare.