New Law Could Take Custody Away From ‘Unaffirming’ Parents

California’s Assembly Bill 957, initially introduced to address gender-affirming considerations in custody battles, has undergone an amendment that has sparked significant controversy. The amendment broadens the definition of parental responsibility for child welfare, suggesting that parents must affirm their child’s gender identity to be deemed fit for providing for the child’s “health, safety, and welfare.” While proponents argue that this amendment is a step towards inclusivity and protection, critics raise concerns about potential consequences and the infringement on parental rights.

AB 957, originally co-authored by Democratic Assembly member Lori Wilson and State Senator Scott Weiner, aimed to introduce gender-affirming factors into custody evaluations. However, the recent amendment expands the criteria for determining parental fitness, making gender affirmation a legal standard. If this amendment becomes law, parents who do not affirm their child’s gender identity could be deemed liable for child abuse, potentially resulting in the removal of their child from their home.

Opponents of the amended bill argue that it could set a dangerous precedent by allowing non-affirmation of a child’s gender identity to be equated with child abuse universally. Conservative outlet The Daily Signal raises concerns about activist organizations leveraging the amendment to target parents who do not recognize their children as transgender. The inclusion of “gender affirmation” in the state’s standards for a child’s “health, safety, and welfare” might enable progressive groups claiming to support victims of sexual assault or domestic violence to bring forth accusations of gender “abuse.”

Proponents of AB 957 downplay concerns over the amendment, stating that affirmation is just one factor among many considered during custody proceedings. They argue that the legislation aims to ensure the well-being of LGBTQ+ children in custody battles, rather than undermining parental rights. However, critics argue that such legislation could infringe on parents’ rights to raise their children according to their own beliefs and values, potentially leading to undue interference from the state.

The controversial bill is set to undergo a state senate hearing on June 13, where stakeholders will have an opportunity to voice their concerns and opinions. The outcome of this hearing will determine whether the amendment becomes law and shapes future custody evaluations in California. Regardless of the bill’s fate, it highlights the ongoing debates surrounding parental rights, child welfare, and the recognition of diverse gender identities.


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