LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky officials have reached an agreement over how the state will oversee treatment of foster children placed with private agencies.
The settlement came from a two decades-old federal lawsuit alleging religious coercion of children and discrimination of LGBTQ people by Sunrise Children’s Services. Sunrise is a religious-based agency run by the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
The American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation for Church and State said they reached the settlement with state officials last week.
Kentucky officials have agreed to take steps to try to ensure children are not subject to religious proselytization and discrimination because of sexual orientation, according to a news release from the ACLU and Americans United.
Sunrise, also a defendant in the lawsuit, opposed the settlement and said it would appeal, the Courier Journal reported. The agency has declined to place children with same-sex couples or hire openly gay employees.
“In contrast to the ACLU and other out-of-town state advocacy groups that have inserted themselves into this litigation, the people of Kentucky generally recognize the immeasurable value of faith-based child care providers’ investment in the care of Kentucky’s abused and neglected children,” Sunrise said.
Cory Shapiro, legal director of ACLU of Kentucky, praised the settlement as “a great outcome for Kentucky’s foster children and for religious freedom.”
The lawsuit dates back to 2000, when a former children’s worker sued Sunrise and the state, alleging she was fired after the agency learned she was a lesbian.