The Story: In a case that portends the future of parental rights, a judge in Ohio gives grandparents custody of a transgender teen.
The Background: Because of a dispute over whether a teenage boy who identifies as a girl should be allowed to undergo hormone treatment to “transition,” an Ohio judge gave custody of the 17-year-old to the boy’s grandparents.
According to CNN, the parents refused to call the boy by his chosen name and would not allow him to undergo hormone treatment. The parents’ attorney had argued that the child was not “even close to being able to make such a life-altering decision at this time,” while the county prosecuting attorney argued the parents wanted to stop the treatment because it violated their religious beliefs.
The judge not only gave custody of the teen to the grandparents, but said they could legally change his name in probate court and could help make medical decisions for the child going forward.
The judge also encouraged Ohio lawmakers to create legislation giving the judicial branch a framework in which they can evaluate a patient’s right to transgender medical interventions.
“What is clear from the testimony presented in this case and the increasing worldwide interest in transgender care is that there is certainly a reasonable expectation that circumstances similar to the one at bar are likely to repeat themselves,” the judge wrote. “That type of legislation would give a voice and a pathway to youth similarly situated as (the teen) without attributing fault to the parents and involving them in protracted litigation which can and does destroy a family unit.”
Why It Matters: For many Christian parents hearing about this latest victory for the transgender movement, it’s easy to feel appalled and frustrated and yet determine that it really has nothing to do with us. After all, we may think, own children are unlikely to want to choose transgender interventions, and their grandparents would side with them if they did.
But the underlying issue is much broader then transgenderism. It’s about how transgenderism is leading to the further erosion of parental rights.
In the two decades prior to his death in 2016, the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia repeatedly warned Americans that our duties and rights as parents are circumscribed by the cultural norms of the secular public.
For example, in 2016 Scalia told an audience at Georgetown University Law Center there is no U.S. constitutional right of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children. Although Scalia believes the right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children is among the “unalienable rights” mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, it is not a right necessarily protected by the Constitution since many “important rights are not contained there.”
“For example, my right to raise my children the way I want,” Scalia said. “To teach them what I want them taught, not what Big Brother says. That is not there.”
To ensure this unalienable right is protected, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina proposed an amendment to the Constitution of the United States last year relating to parental rights. The bill was referred to the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice last December.
Most Christian parents have not even heard of this bill, much less asked their legislators to advance its passage. Because so few of us know about it the legislation will likely continue to languish and be forgotten—only to be dusted off after a Supreme Court ruling further jeopardizes parental rights. Unfortunately, by then it may be too late. A Supreme Court ruling undermining parental rights for the cause of transgenderism—as in the Ohio case—will make it nearly impossible to pass such an amendment in the future.
We didn’t heed Justice Scalia’s warning before his death. But we still have an opportunity to protect the rights of parents before the Court decides the state, rather than parents, should decide what’s best for our children.