In an unexpected turn of events, California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed the controversial AB-957, one of four new bills designed to undermine the child custody rights of parents who don’t subscribe to the state’s radical gender orthodoxy.
Whether motivated by political calculus or Newsom’s conciliatory assertion that California courts already consider “the parent’s affirmation of the child’s gender identity” when making custody decisions, the veto demonstrated that the growing chorus of parents troubled by government interference in how they raise and care for their children is making waves even in California.
AB-957 would have required judges in child custody proceedings to consider whether parents “affirm” their child’s gender identity. Such a law would blatantly politicize child custody and violate the constitutionally protected right of parents to choose the best care for their child. By injecting an experimental and controversial standard of care for gender dysphoria into the sensitive and serious realm of deciding child custody rights, this legislation would have coerced parents to bow to the ideological dictates of the state of California or risk losing contact with their children.
Pediatric Gender Regimen Ignores Scientific Evidence
AB-957 would have also pressured parents to assent to harmful and experimental uses of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and even surgeries or risk being found insufficiently “affirm[ing] of the child’s gender identity or gender expression” to maintain custody. Yet a growing body of evidence — including several systematic reviews conducted in Europe — has failed to demonstrate that unnatural puberty blockers, life-altering hormones, and permanently sterilizing surgeries are safe and effective for treating gender dysphoria in children.
That is why several countries and many medical practitioners in the U.S. are prioritizing compassionate, effective mental health care for children. But AB-957 would have penalized parents who choose to follow the science rather than pushing harmful drugs and irreversible surgeries on their children. This kind of legislation would violate a parent’s right to make these important decisions free of government coercion by threatening that parent’s custody of his or her children.
Politicizing Child Custody Undermines Religious Freedom
Finally, legislation like AB-957 targets religious parents trying to live according to the tenets of their faith tradition. The law would have undermined the parental rights of faithful adherents of many religions — including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam — simply because they refuse to recant their deeply held beliefs about what it means to be male and female. AB-957 would have violated the core of every parent’s freedom to believe and act in accordance with that belief in deciding how to raise his or her children.
While the veto of AB-957 provides some limited relief for California parents who want to exercise their fundamental right to direct the upbringing and care of their children, “California’s War on Parents” is still raging and far from over.
California’s Ongoing Assault on Parents’ Right to Protect Their Kids
For example, the California legislature also passed AB-665. The bill gives therapists and other “professionals” the authority to determine whether a minor as young as 12 years old is mature enough to consent to mental health treatment or counseling in an outpatient clinic or residential shelter. Under the law, 12-year-old kids would be able to seek mental health treatment or counseling in a clinic or shelter without their parents’ knowledge or involvement.
This means health professionals could leave parents in the dark while their child secretly receives experimental psychological services. And this could push children to reject the sex of their body, placing them on a one-way street to powerful drugs and sterilizing surgeries.
The bottom line is AB-665 allows a total stranger to make decisions about what is in the best interests of a child, without even a hint of any wrongdoing on the part of the parents who know and love them best.
Embrace Gender Ideology, or Else
These laws send a clear message: Comply with California’s radical gender ideology, or the state will take control of your children.
That’s where this war on families will end if citizens and parents do not keep states like California in check. If parents stop pushing back against this kind of egregious legislation — and courts do not fully uphold and protect the fundamental rights of parents to direct the care and education of their children — then parents are going to lose custody for trying to protect their kids from rushing down the dangerous path of experimental hormones and surgeries.
And this war on parental rights is not confined to California. States like Minnesota are following suit with similar laws. And courts around the country (like in Indiana and Ohio) are taking custody from caring parents who question whether doctors should subject their children to harmful protocols and procedures that have permanent and profound consequences.
America Must Fulfill a New Promise to Parents
Parents need to keep pushing back against the blatant government overreach that threatens their constitutionally protected rights to raise their children. Congress and state legislatures must act quickly to pass legislation that will ensure the federal and state governments treat parental rights with the deference and respect they deserve. They should provide parents with the government accountability, choice, and transparency outlined in the “Promise to America’s Parents.”
It’s been said that when California sneezes, America catches a cold. Well, this is one cold our nation does not want to catch. The health and flourishing of our children depend on it.