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Last-minute Trump rule change to allow HHS grantees to refuse LGBTQ people

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WASHINGTON — Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Thursday announced a rule that will permit social service agencies and providers that receive HHS grant funding to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

In a press release, Lambda Legal said that the rule impacts HHS-supported social services ranging from foster care, adoption, HIV and STI prevention programs, and refugee assistance, to programs for seniors and adults and youth experiencing homelessness, and many other public health services.

It is to be formally published on Monday, Jan. 11, and go into effect on Feb. 11.

“With this rule, the Trump Administration and HHS continue their no-holds-barred and comprehensive assault on the health and well-being of LGBTQ people and everyone living with HIV, as well as on women, religious minorities, and limited English speakers,” said Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Sasha Buchert. “Even as Trump administration officials abandon ship, HHS has announced yet another dangerous rule that invites discrimination against the very people federal grant programs are meant to help.”

Buchert called on the incoming Biden administration to address policies like this immediately.

“HHS is charged with protecting the health and wellbeing of all people, but its actions today demonstrate once again its complete disregard for its mission,” added M. Currey Cook, Director of Lambda Legal’s Youth in Out-of-Home Care Project. “This rule rolls back critical protections against discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and religion, and in doing so, puts at risk some of the most vulnerable members of our communities, including LGBT people who are poor or experiencing homelessness; LGBT seniors and LGBT youth in out-of-home care, including children in foster care, people living with HIV, and many others.”

The change is the latest in a long line of rule changes that negatively impact the LGBTQ community involving healthcare and adoption.

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