Activists sue Trump administration for scrapping data on LGBT+ and American Indian youth in foster care

foster care US President Donald Trump arrives to speak during the first day of the Republican National Convention

Activist groups are collectively suing the Trump administration for scrapping data collection on LGBT+ and American Indian youth in the US foster system.

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has been required since 2016, under the Obama administration, to collect data on marginalised groups which are overrepresented in the foster system.

According to MetroWeekly, by tracking American Indian children in the foster system as well as their tribal affiliations, child welfare services are able to abide by the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), placing American Indian children with relatives or fellow tribal members whenever possible.

Reporting voluntarily-disclosed data on LGBT+ youth and LGBT+ foster families allows the US government to measure the outcomes of queer children, as well as children placed with rainbow families.

But in May, 2020, the Trump administration announced that it would no longer require child welfare agencies to collect and report this data on American Indian and LGBT+ children in the foster system.

In response, a range of organisations including two federally recognized Indian tribes, a tribal coalition, foster care alumni and LGBT+ youth organisations have joined forces to sue the Trump administration.

The lawsuit against HHS and ACF was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California on Thursday, August 27, and the plaintiffs are represented by Democracy Forward, Lambda Legal, and the Michigan State University College of Law’s Indian Law Clinic.

According to Lambda Legal, the coalition of activists said: “The Trump administration undid more than a decade of hard work when it unlawfully prevented the collection of critical data about how American Indian and Alaska Native children and LGBTQ+ youth fare in the nation’s foster care system.

“The data is critical to improving outcomes for American Indian and Alaska Native children and LGBTQ+ youth.

“The administration’s unlawful actions will keep many of America’s most vulnerable foster children and youth in the shadows.

“We’re fighting to protect American Indian and Alaska Native children and LGBTQ+ youth from statistical erasure. We will vigorously challenge the administration’s unlawful action.”

Angel Gonzales, board president of Facing Foster Care in Alaska, added: “Alaska Native, American Indian, and LGBTQ+ youth are overrepresented in child welfare systems across the country.

“Our brothers and sisters of foster care deserve to be counted so that the data can drive solutions and end the pipeline to homelessness, incarceration, and intergenerational trauma.”