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Parents Ask Supreme Court to Intervene: State Takes Custody of Sex-Confused Teen

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The Cox family from Indiana is seeking Supreme Court intervention in their child custody case after the state took their teenage son away for identifying as a girl.

The parents argued that the Indiana Department of Child Services violated their parental rights and religious liberty by removing their son from their home due to their refusal to use his preferred pronouns.

“If this can happen in Indiana, it can happen anywhere. Tearing a child away from loving parents because of their religious beliefs, which are shared by millions of Americans, is an outrage to the law, parental rights, and basic human decency,” The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty vice president Lori Windham said. “If the Supreme Court doesn’t take this case, how many times will this happen to other families?”

Despite providing therapeutic care for their child’s gender dysphoria and addressing his eating disorder, the state placed him in a home affirming his transgender identity.

The case raised concerns about parental rights, free speech, and religious exercise in child welfare cases.

“To address both issues, they provided therapeutic care for their child’s gender dysphoria and scheduled appointments with a specialist to help him with the eating disorder,” attorneys said.

“At the initial trial court hearing, Indiana officials argued the child ‘should be in a home where she is [ac]cepted for who she is.’ The court restricted the Coxes’ visitation time to a few hours once a week and barred them from speaking to their child about their religious views on human sexuality and gender identity,” The Becket Fund stated.

“In short, even though the court agreed that the Coxes were fit parents, it upheld the removal of their child. An appeals court upheld the removal,” attorneys said.

The state argued the case is moot as the son is now an adult, while the parents emphasized the importance of protecting parental rights in such situations.

“With increasing frequency, governments run roughshod over parents’ religious beliefs on gender identity, including removing children from parents, favoring certain beliefs in divorce custody disputes, and preventing adoptions,” the brief read. “These cases are sure to proliferate. Some state legislatures are now authorizing the state to take custody where parents refuse full-steam-ahead gender transitions. And by one estimate, ten million students nationwide attend schools that will actively conceal a child’s gender identity from his parents.”

“This case presents a legal question of nationwide importance: when can the state muzzle parental speech and remove a child from the home of admittedly fit parents? The [lower court decision] squarely conflicts with this Court’s precedents on parental rights, free speech, and religious exercise,” the brief added.

“But if Indiana is right, all child welfare cases will become unreviewable when the child turns 18. That is textbook capable-of-repetition-yet-evading-review,” the parents’ attorneys wrote.

“Rather, petitioners’ child was removed because the child had a severe eating disorder that petitioners had not been able to effectively address for two years, that jeopardized the child’s brain and bone health,” the attorney general’s office stated.

“This is what every parent is afraid of. We love our son and wanted to care for him, but the state of Indiana robbed us of that opportunity by taking him from our home and banning us from speaking to him about gender,” Mary and Jeremy Cox said. “We are hopeful that the Justices will take our case and protect other parents from having to endure the nightmare we did.”

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