A grieving mother from California, who tragically lost her daughter to suicide during her gender transition, has submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court. This heartfelt plea is in support of a mother from Indiana who is currently facing the potential loss of custody for not endorsing her daughter’s gender transition. The California mother’s personal experience lends a powerful voice to the ongoing debate surrounding parental rights and gender identity.
Abigail Martinez, an immigrant from El Salvador, raised four children in California. One of her children, while struggling with depression in high school, began questioning her sexuality. Martinez claims that the school staff advised her daughter to join the school’s LGBTQ club, where she was allegedly convinced that changing her gender was the only path to happiness. Furthermore, Martinez asserts that the school psychologist encouraged her daughter to pursue the same path. Unfortunately, the school implemented a new policy that required staff to use students’ preferred names and pronouns without notifying or seeking permission from parents. As a result, Martinez was unaware of her daughter’s new identity and believed that the school staff, who were supposed to provide support, became her worst enemy.
After Martinez’s daughter was hospitalized for attempting suicide, Martinez claims that the school psychologist advised her daughter to accuse her of abuse. The psychologist allegedly suggested this so that Martinez would lose custody and the state would cover the costs of gender-transition treatments without requiring parental consent. Consequently, the California Department of Child and Family Services intervened, removing Martinez’s daughter from her care and placing her in a group home. Subsequently, a judge granted permission for Martinez’s daughter to undergo cross-sex hormone therapy to further her transition.
Although Martinez vigorously contested the abuse allegations and ultimately cleared her name, she remained deeply concerned about her daughter’s well-being. Unfortunately, shortly after the court determined Martinez to be a fit parent, her daughter tragically took her own life by lying down on train tracks. Martinez firmly believed that her daughter’s suicide could have been prevented if she had received treatment for her underlying depression instead of being administered cross-sex hormones. She holds this lack of appropriate mental health care responsible for her daughter’s untimely death.
The case of M.C. and J.C. v. Indiana Department of Child Services in Indiana mirrors a similar pattern. Despite being deemed “fit” by the state, the parents had their child taken away due to their religious beliefs regarding gender identity and their refusal to support the child’s transition. The parents argue that Indiana violated their First Amendment rights by impeding their ability to raise their children in accordance with their faith. Additionally, they claim that Indiana DCS restricted their freedom of speech by limiting the topics they could discuss during their limited visitations with their child.
Kayla Toney, Associate Counsel for First Liberty Institute, expressed concern about the government’s interference in the role of parents in their children’s lives. Toney emphasized the importance of the Constitution in protecting parents from being targeted based on their religious beliefs and having their rights to raise their children with their chosen religious values infringed upon. Toney also highlighted the need to prevent state officials from violating parental constitutional rights without facing consequences.
The parents, after facing disappointments with Indiana courts upholding DCS’ decisions, have filed a writ of certiorari seeking a review by the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court decides to hear the case and rules against Indiana, it could potentially overturn state laws in California, Washington, and Oregon, as well as court decisions in Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois. These laws and decisions currently result in parents losing custody if they fail to seek or affirm gender transition treatments for their children.