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USA News

Transgender child forcibly removed from Christian parents: Court refuses to hear appeal

by Lydia Davies

The US Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from a Catholic couple who lost custody of their child, after refusing to acknowledge his self-identified female gender.

The court did not provide a reason for its refusal to hear the case.

Mary and Jeremy Cox, devout Catholics from Indiana, began legal proceedings after their teenage son informed them he identified as a girl.

The couple's Christian beliefs about gender and sexuality meant they could not agree to their son's request of acceptance.

Instead, guided by their faith, they chose to pursue therapy for him, wishing to address what they perceived to be "underlying mental health concerns".

This prompted an investigation by the Indiana Department of Child Services.

The government subsequently removed their son from their home, placing him in another home that “affirmed” his transgender beliefs.

"No other loving parents should have to endure what we did" Mr Cox said in a statement after the Supreme Court's announcement.

"The pain of having our son taken from our home and kept from our care because of our beliefs will stay with us forever”.

In 2021, two years after the couple's son began identifying as female, the Indiana Department of Child Services investigated the Coxes and eventually removed their son from their custody. He was placed into a home that affirmed his self-declared identity.

Joshua Hershberger, general counsel for the Indiana Family Institute, which supported the couple alongside religious freedom advocacy group Becket, said: "These constitutional principles represent a cause-not just a case-and we will continue to advocate for that cause in law and culture”.

The case posed significant questions about parental rights, religious freedom and free speech. It asked: "When can the state muzzle parental speech and remove a child from the home of admittedly fit parents?"

In an interview with The Christian Post Laura Slavis, an attorney at Becket, warned that failure by the Supreme Court to intervene would set a "dangerous precedent" potentially leading other states to remove children from parents based on religious beliefs.

"There are two major issues in this case. One is about the fact that the child is taken away just because of the parents' religious beliefs on sexuality. And the other is what a parent can speak to their child about in the confines of their own home” she said.

A ruling in the couple's favour by the Supreme Court would have signalled that "the parents would no longer have any legal consequences flowing from this custody proceeding," Slavis concluded.

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