Several Christian families in Vermont allege they were excluded from the state’s foster care system due to their beliefs on gender and sexuality, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Brian and Kaitlyn Wuoti, along with Michael and Rebecca Gantt, accuse the Vermont Department for Children and Families of revoking their foster care licenses because of their Christian beliefs. The lawsuit, reported by The Daily Signal, was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont Windham Division.

The lawsuit argues that Vermont’s foster-care system is in crisis but claims the Department has excluded families with traditional religious beliefs about human sexuality from fostering or adopting children. It asserts this policy prioritizes politics and gender ideology over children’s best interests, calling it harmful, unnecessary, and unconstitutional.

The families claim Vermont violated their First Amendment rights to free speech, association, and religion, and their Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process and equal protection. They seek to have the state’s guidance on sexual and gender identity deemed unconstitutional.

Despite having adopted five children between them, the Wuotis and Gantts allege the Department deemed them unfit to foster or adopt due to their belief that gender is immutable. The state required adherence to its position on gender issues, asking if they would take a child to a Pride parade or use pronouns aligning with a child’s gender identity, which the families refused. Consequently, their licenses were not renewed.

“We were surprised because they usually strive to match children with families as best they can,” Brian Wuoti told The Daily Signal. Caseworkers had previously praised the families, with one describing the Wuotis in 2022 as “AMAZING” and an ideal foster family.

This conflict arises as the Biden administration promotes a foster care placement rule that critics argue forces acceptance of gender ideology, threatening religious liberty. Congressional Republicans and state attorneys general have challenged the rule.