COLUMBUS—State Representatives Anne Gonzales (R-Westerville) and Jeffery Rezabek (R-Clayton) today applauded the passage of legislation that strengthens the law to ensure that courts and child placement services are not discriminating against blind parents when determining the placement of a child.
With the goal of keeping families together, House Bill 309 prohibits a court, public children services agency or private child-placing agency from using a person’s blindness to limit or deny that person from caring for their child. The only exception in these cases is if it is assessed that it is not in the best interest of the child to keep them with their parents.
At the time of introduction, 14 other states had passed similar legislation. The bill aims to adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act and provides equal protection for blind parents pertaining to child welfare, foster care, family law and adoption. Under the legislation, a court will determine if a person’s blindness could have a detrimental impact on the safety, health and well-being of the minor by following the established requirements outlined in the bill.
“HB 309 is a positive step forward in keeping families intact and also ensuring that discrimination does not occur in custody battles,” Rep. Rezabek said. “As an attorney who specializes in family law, I understand the importance of always having the best interest of the child in mind. Simply because a parent is blind does not indicate how well he or she can raise a child.”
“This bill is important in battling the preconceived and unnecessary societal biases surrounding the ability of blind parents to successfully parent their children,” Rep. Gonzales said.
The legislation also impacts blind individuals when they are seeking to become a foster parent, adopt a child or be appointed as a guardian of a child such as kinship care.
House Bill 309, which is a Buckeye Pathway bill because it works to strengthen families and communities, will now go to the Senate for further consideration.