A Clark County couple has filed suit against the Department for Community Based Services of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and three related individuals after they say their foster parental rights were revoked because they are black and gay.
Tiniqua Gay and Felicia Gay, both of Winchester, received their foster parent certificates in 2013, according to the suit. In May 2015 and June 2016, the couple became foster parents for two baby girls who are sisters. In January, the couple told the Cabinet they wished to adopt the babies as the biological mother’s parental rights were being terminated in May.
In April, Felicia Gay had an argument with the biological mother of the children, the lawsuit said. Emily Sergeant, a Clark County social worker responsible for supervising visitation between the mother and child, witnessed the biological mother feeding one of the babies pizza with tomato sauce on it, according to the suit. Felicia Gay became concerned because the baby has an allergy to tomatoes. Sergeant and the mother were aware of the allergy, the lawsuit said. When Felicia Gay asked about the food, the mother began yelling at her.
The biological mother proceeded to call Felicia Gay a racial slur and asked Sergeant why the Cabinet is letting her kids be raised by the couple, the lawsuit said. After the argument, Gay asked Sergeant why she did nothing to diffuse the argument between Gay and the biological mother.
Later in the month, Felicia Gay filed a complaint with the Cabinet against Sergeant because of her inaction, the lawsuit read.
After the complaint was filed, the couple received a phone call from Kristy Kidd, a regional supervisor for the department for Community Based Services, saying that the babies would be removed from their care because of the fight and the Cabinet could not “allow a situation to exist that is not in the best interest of the children” and that the couple would not receive any future foster children placements, the lawsuit said.
In May, the Cabinet closed the Gays’ foster home, despite the Gays writing a letter saying they would not close their home.
In addition to the cabinet, Kidd and Sergeant, the lawsuit also lists Lesley Spencer, a foster care and adoption supervisor. The lawsuit alleges that the Cabinet discriminated against the Gays and that the reason the babies were removed was because of retaliation for the compliant against Sergeant. The lawsuit also alleges infliction of emotional distress.
The lawsuit asks for a jury trial and $1 million for embarrassment and humiliation.
Doug Hogan, spokesman for the Cabinet, said the Cabinet does not comment on pending litigation. The suit was filed June 13 in federal court.