“I just found out that an unmarried mother in my program is now living with a man. Can I terminate my contract with her because of this?”
“A father enrolled in my program told me he is going to undergo a sex change operation. I’m uncomfortable about this and I’m afraid other families will leave me. What can I do?”
Questions about sexual identify and sexual activity can be difficult to handle for some family child care providers.
Let’s look at the legal and moral issues.
There are no federal laws that prevent you from discriminating against parents because of their marital status or sexual orientation. In other words, you can refuse care to unmarried parents who live together or to gay or lesbian couples. But it is illegal to discriminate based on the sex of an individual – “I will only accept a boy to fill my next opening.”
However, states can add protected classes to their own anti-discrimination laws. For example, states such as Minnesota, New York and Illinois prohibit discrimination based on either marital status or sexual orientation (which includes those who have a transgender operation). In Florida you can’t discriminate against unmarried couples but you can discriminate against a gay couple. In South Carolina, Tennessee and Indiana you can discriminate against both groups.
If you do not know the law in your state, contact your child care licensor or your state human rights department.
If your state allows you to discriminate against unmarried or gay couples, should you? Our personal views about sexual activity and sexual identity have been shaped by our own history. The parents and the children you serve have their own individual experiences.
I believe we make a big mistake if we treat people differently based on their sexual identity. The scientific evidence is clear that being gay or lesbian is not a choice, it’s who the person is. Children raised by loving gay or lesbian parents are not at a disadvantage compared to children raised by a hetrosexual couple. I believe family child care providers should welcome children to their program because they are children, not because they are a boy or girl or who loves them in their own home.
Parents do make choices about whether or not to marry. There was a time when I was passionately against marriage (my college years). Before my wife and I got married we lived together. This year we’ll celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary.
You don’t have to agree with all the personal choices made by the parents you accept into your program. I’d be shocked if you did! What’s important is how you can help their children grow up to make their own choices. We don’t love parents or children for the choices they make, rather we love them for who they are.
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