Perspectives; Thoughts; Comments; Opinions; Discussions

BY: PAULA RINEHART | NOVEMBER 07, 2022

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2022/11/07/how-safe-are-your-parental-rights-it-increasingly-depends-on-your-politics/

Mom and daughter holding hands on a porch bench
If the issue at hand is your child’s confusion about his sex, then your parental rights can be bargained away in court far too easily. 

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PAULA RINEHART

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Michigan voters will decide Tuesday whether children in that state can obtain puberty blockers at Planned Parenthood facilities without parental consent. Proposal 3 would also give Michigan children a constitutional right to be castrated or surgically sterilized — again, without the consent of a parent.  

Parental rights have become a fiercely contested battleground. Historically, your right to determine what’s in the best interest of your child has gone without question. It’s the oldest, most fundamental liberty we know, enshrined in legal doctrine since 1690.

But too often today, ideology determines whether your parental rights will actually stand in court. If a parent opposes her child’s desire to pretend to be the opposite sex, courts increasingly treat that parent’s rights as expendable. The sexual confusion of children overshadows parents’ rights to remain in their children’s lives as a potent force. 

In a courtroom down the hall, however, the rights of neglectful or drug-abusing parents are treated with kid gloves, under the theme of family preservation. Activist courts stand ready to protect your parental rights, but only when your narrative matches their own.  

‘I’m God in this Case’

Less than a year ago, Abigail Shrier shocked readers with her story of a California judge who stripped a father of his parental rights because he showed insufficient support for performing irreversible medical procedures on his sex-confused son. These cases are popping up all around the country. Sexual ideology is becoming the governing factor in a child’s placement, trumping the will and the voice of a parent. In a state whose governor was elected on a parental rights platform, Virginia Del. Elizabeth Guzman brazenly introduced a bill that would charge a parent who fails to affirm a child’s “sexual orientation or gender identity” with a felony. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed legislation that makes his state a “refuge” for trans-identifying minors who seek irreversible medical procedures. Just make it to the Golden State … and there is nothing your objecting parents can do.  

One case in the sleepy university town of Charlottesville, Virginia, provides some insight into how a parent can suddenly get framed as “the bad parent” in a custody battle, merely for questioning a child’s sexual confusion.  

Sarah Schultz told me she spent more than a half-million dollars trying to retain joint custody of her 15-year-old daughter who first claimed she was bisexual and then began to question her sex. Schultz pled for a “wait and see” approach and for the right to have an influence in her daughter’s maturing adolescence. Despite Sarah’s ex-husband’s earlier fentanyl overdose, she says, a judge gave primary custody of the daughter to her dad, who permitted both bisexual and heterosexual sleepovers. In the past four years, Schultz has seen her daughter fewer than five times. 

Schultz said the appointed guardian ad litem viewed her faith as a threat to her daughter’s emerging sexuality. “I’m God in this case,” Schultz recalled her daughter’s guardian ad litem saying. The court saw her daughter as a girl in an “authentic process to discover her identity,” Schultz explained, while the father was commendable because he was “allowing her sexuality to blossom.”  

Courts often use the “safety of the child” as a guise to award custody to a parent who mirrors the left’s narrative. Note the irony here. How can you be a good parent unless you are willing to oppose something harmful your child thinks she wants at the time? A teenager sees hormones and irreversible surgeries as a mirage of liberation. A concerned parent sees what a disfigured body and the inability to have children will mean 10 years from now.

A Pernicious Double Standard

Treatment of parental rights in the world of foster care and adoption, meanwhile, is a vastly different story.  

A mother can give birth to a baby who spends two months in the NICU, crying for endless hours as he detoxes from the heroin his mother ingested during pregnancy, and she or her mother can still take the baby home. Parental rights are treated as sacrosanct, even though most of the maltreatment of children actually occurs at the hands of parents or their paramours.  

 “Family preservation” is the holy grail courts and welfare agencies pursue, often at the expense of the actual safety of children. As Naomi Schaefer Riley explains in her book, “No Way To Treat A Child,” “child welfare workers and family-court judges … believe that foster care, to the extent that it should be used at all, is an endless holding pattern for a child while parents get their affairs in order.” Sadly, many never do.  

In an effort to preserve parental rights, children languish in care for years. The common complaint in foster care is “the clock.” Though a child is legally eligible for adoption after roughly two years in care, drug-abusing parents can play out the clock, attend a few recovery meetings, fulfill a requirement or two on the reunification plan — and the clock starts over. Many children age out of the possibility of adoption because the court favors parental rights over children’s attachment needs.  

The Use and Abuse of Parental Rights

Given the current capricious approach of many courts, the question to ask is: Just how safe are your parental rights? If the issues at hand are related to your child’s confusion about his sex, then your parental rights can be bargained away in court far too easily. But if the court frames those rights as a matter of “family preservation,” they are nearly carved in stone.

The contrast between how parental rights are viewed, depending on the left-wing bias of courts and state agencies, should disturb everyone. The right of conscientious parents to shape their child’s life is among the most cherished of all human freedoms. That right is increasingly threatened, as the militancy of transgender ideology invades the private realm of parent and child. 

 How safe are your parental rights then? Only as safe as the left wants them to be.  


Paula Rinehart, LCSW, is a therapist in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the author of the book “Sex and the Soul of a Woman.” She writes about family and culture.

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