A child welfare agency in Australia has come under scrutiny after lesbian foster parents dressed a six-year-old boy in their care in girl's clothing and posted photos of the child on their Facebook page.
The boy, given the pseudonym Campbell in court papers, and his sister, Abby, were removed from their home along with five other siblings due to allegations of physical and mental abuse from their parents.
Campbell and Abby were placed with the lesbian couple in 2009. The boy was about 3-years-old and his sister 12 when they were placed with the foster parents, selected by child welfare agency Barnado's Find-a-Family Program.
The foster home reportedly did not work out for Abby, who was removed from the lesbian couple's care.
According to court documents, "Campbell was placed with a same sex couple who were experiencing instability in aspects of their relationship."
The findings of a clinical psychologist regarding the lesbian couple were referred to during the court proceedings, which revealed:
"Overall, [names not published] impressed as a young couple who have had quite a turbulent period through the course of Campbell's placement. This period has included a separation and reconciliation, ongoing difficulties with Abby resulting in a subsequent breakdown of her placement, a large wedding and honeymoon, fertility treatment and preparation for gender transformation for [name not published], as well as a current house move."
It was after Abby left, according to media reports, that the women dressed Campbell in girl's clothing, took photos of him, and published the photos on their Facebook page.
Families Minister Pru Goward was among child welfare officials who were demanding an investigation of Barnardos.
"I am seeking advice from Barnardos to confirm that care arrangements were appropriate and the wellbeing of the children was paramount," Goward told News Limited.
Former Children's Court magistrate Barbara Holborow also called for an investigation into how the child welfare agency decided to place the children in the lesbian couple's care.
"Oh my God, what are we doing?" Holborow said, according to the Herald Sun.
Campbell's story of abuse came to light after a Supreme Court ruling was made public last month in a news bulletin published by the Children's Court of New South Wales.
The court documents revealing the details of Campbell's case were related to his mother's attempt to regain custody of the child. Her request was denied.
Public response to Campbell's treatment at the hand of his foster parents has been mixed.
Some reacting to the story have questioned Barnardo's selection of Campbell's foster parents, while others insist the issue is whether the boy was psychologically harmed by being put in girl's clothing and having his photo taken.
Campbell was placed in a new home in 2010.