Relations Reporting on marriage, family, and sexuality

Parenting gender dysphoria

Family | An Ohio proposal would protect parents who refuse sex changes for their children
by Kiley Crossland
Posted 5/18/18, 02:29 pm

State legislators in Ohio this week introduced a bill that would protect parents who do not want their children to undergo treatment for gender dysphoria.

The bill, sponsored by Republican state Reps. Tom Brinkman and Paul Zeltwanger, affirms the fundamental right of parents to “withhold consent for gender dysphoria treatment or activities that are designed and intended to form a child’s conception of sex and gender.”

The measure would also require schools to inform parents in writing if their child exhibits symptoms of gender dysphoria or demonstrates a desire to identify as a different gender. Before a school or other government agency could provide any treatment—including medical, psychological, or social therapy—the bill would require they inform the child’s parents about the possible risks of such treatment and receive written consent.

The legislation responds to a case earlier this year in which an Ohio judge permanently removed a teenage girl from her parents’ custody because they did not want her to undergo sex-change treatment.

Cincinnati-area Juvenile Court Judge Sylvia Hendon turned the 17-year-old over to her grandparents, who supported her desire to identify as a boy. The teen’s parents instead wanted to pursue Christian counseling to help identify the underlying causes of the gender dysphoria. A hospital gender clinic told the judge it was a matter of life or death for the girl to receive hormone therapy.

“It’s absolutely horrifying that the state would remove a child from parents’ custody to put the child on untested and dangerous drugs,” Aaron Baer, president of Citizens for Community Values said in a statement. “Hamilton County Job and Family Services crossed the line in this case. HB 658 ensures this can’t happen to other Ohio families.”

Critics of hormone therapy for children argue it is a social and medical experiment with the potential to cause long-term harm, including sterilization.

Baer said the bill also addresses efforts by the National Education Association and GLSEN, an organization pushing LGBT policies in K-12 schools, to encourage schools to sometimes withhold information from parents about a child’s gender identity or sexual orientation.

A model policy for school districts proposed by GLSEN encourages schools not to disclose a student’s transgender status to parents without the student’s consent because of the risk of family rejection.

“No school should go behind a parent’s back. Schools should be supporting parents, not undermining them,” said Baer, noting the bill is a “common sense solution that ensures parents, not the state, makes choices for their children.”

Associated Press/Photo by Nick Ut Associated Press/Photo by Nick Ut A Los Angeles–area billboard promotes testing for sexually transmitted diseases in 2016.

STDs spike in California

Amid rising rates nationally, California officials on Monday said cases of sexually transmitted diseases reached a state record high last year. More than 300,000 cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis were reported in 2017, a 45 percent increase in the last five years, according to state Department of Public Health figures.

Officials also expressed concern about a spike in cases of stillbirth due to congenital syphilis—an infection affecting the unborn children of pregnant women with the disease. There were 30 stillbirths in 2017 due to the infection, the highest number since 1995. Los Angeles County alone saw 47 cases of congenital syphilis, a jump from just eight cases in 2013.

“For California to have a steady increase in congenital syphilis is shameful,” said Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of medicine at UCLA. “We’ve known how to control syphilis since early 1900s.”

By “control” Klausner means condoms and antibiotics. He and others have argued the overall STD spike is the result of decreased public health funding and lack of education. Heidi Bauer, chief of the state health department’s STD Control Branch, said the $20 million budget to fight STDs is not enough for California’s 40 million residents, especially in regions dealing with poverty, substance abuse, mental health issues, and homelessness.

The California health department said it was spearheading an effort to educate the public about the risks of STDs and how to stay protected, screened, and treated.

But no one wants to acknowledge the obvious: If society continues to idolize sexual fulfillment, public health programs, education, and medications will never keep up with all the problems created. —K.C.

Associated Press/Photo by David Jordan Associated Press/Photo by David Jordan Gov. Phil Scott (seated) signs a law about restroom signage on May 11.

Vermont’s no-brainer bathroom bill

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, last Friday signed a bill into law that will require all public, single-user restrooms be marked gender-neutral. The bill passed with bipartisan support in the state House and Senate.

Transgender activists applauded the measure as a victory for LGBT rights.

“Vermont is the state that often has to show the rest of the United States where to go and how to get there,” said Brenda Churchill of the LGBTQIA Alliance of Vermont after the bill’s signing.

But are private family restrooms really groundbreaking?

The bill (H. 333) is what the Vermont legislature should have adopted in the first place, according to Autumn Leva, vice president of strategy for the Family Policy Alliance. Instead, in 2007, Vermont passed a law designating “gender identity” as a protected class and threatening the privacy and safety of its citizens in restrooms and locker rooms.

“H. 333 now clarifies that single-occupancy facilities may be used by families or individuals of any sex, but with the broad law already in place, H. 333 will not fix the very real privacy and safety problem faced by especially women and children in Vermont,” said Leva, noting the law is also problematic because it dictates to churches how they operate their facilities.

The new law takes effect July 1. —K.C.

A courtroom full of descendants

A special prosecutor in Canada this week recommended jail time for two men found guilty of polygamy.

Last July, British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Sheri Ann Donegan found Winston Blackmore guilty of marrying two dozen women and James Oler of marrying five women. Both men are leaders of a fundamentalist Morman sect in a rural community called Bountiful in southeastern British Columbia.

The cases are two of four total convictions for polygamy in Canadian history. The other two were in 1899 and 1906.

The prosecutor, Peter Wilson, asked for a sentence of between 90 days and six months for Blackmore and one month to 90 days for Oler, noting both men were motivated by their “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

The courtroom was packed for the sentencing, mostly with members of Blackmore’s family. He reportedly has over 145 children with 27 women. —K.C.

Slip of the tongue

One of Britain’s top central bankers is in hot water this week after saying the British economy was entering a “menopausal” moment. Ben Broadbent, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, said he was trying to describe economies that were “past their peak and no longer so potent.” Broadbent released an apology the next day. —K.C.

Kiley Crossland

Kiley reports on marriage, family, and sexuality for WORLD Digital. Follow Kiley on Twitter @KileyCrossland.

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