CNA Staff, Jun 15, 2020 / 14:32 pm
The Department of Housing and Urban Development is set to roll back an Obama-era rule that requires single-sex homeless shelters to accommodate clients based on their gender identity.
The new rule will allow single-sex shelters to serve only those whose biological sex aligns with their residents, according to a report from the Washington Post.
According to the new rule, a shelter that denies access to a transgender client must recommend the client to another shelter. A shelter may still choose to serve transgender people, but if it does, the shelter must do so consistently.
Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Kate Anderson said that the proposed HUD rule allows shelters to live out their religious principles, which may conflict with admitting transgender people into a same-sex shelter.
“There is no need to force shelters to violate their faith or impose a blanket federal policy that forces vulnerable women to share space with men who claim a female identity,” said Anderson. “Some of the faith-based organizations we’ve represented in court have faced hostility—and even the threat of closure—by government officials who disagree with their religious beliefs. That’s why we are glad HUD is proposing a rule that at least returns this issue to local control and otherwise lets shelters set their own admissions policies to carry out their mission.”
The rule retains the HUD 2012 “equal access” rule, which mandated that homeless shelters be “open to all eligible individuals and families regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.”
The 2012 rule left room for single-sex shelters to deny housing to transgender clients. A 2016 study conducted by the Center for American Progress found that only 30% of female homeless shelters were willing to house biological males.
The ambiguity regarding the treatment of transgender and non-gender conforming clients prompted a 2016 rule, which required shelters to serve transgender people – even if their biological sex does not align with the rest of the shelter’s residents.