Three 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges are considering a case in which government officials facilitated sex-change treatments for a minor child against the parent’s specific instructions.
Anmarie Calgaro filed suit in November 2016 after her then-minor son underwent sex-change treatment with the aid of the St. Louis County School District, St. Louis County, Fairview Health Services and Park Nicollet Health Services.
At the trial level, Judge Paul Magnuson agreed her parental rights, which remained “intact” at the time, were violated. But he dismissed the case, determining school officials and social workers did not infringe on her constitutional rights.
Calgaro’s lawsuit was heard recently before the appeals court in the case of J.D.K., who was 17 at the time. A lawyer for St. Louis County blamed a worker’s error and denied county liability. The health services organization’s attorney insisted the agency acted properly.
The boy was told by a lawyer with Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid that he was emancipated from his parents’ authority and could pursue sex-change surgery without their permission or even informing them.
Calgaro is represented by the Thomas More Society, and special counsel Erick Kaardal has called her ordeal “a parent’s worst nightmare.”
Her lawsuit alleges county, school district and medical providers terminated her parental rights without due process when they decided “on their own,” without even notifying her, that her son could undergo the sex-change procedures.
Her lawyers told the 8th Circuit that St. Louis County “determined, without any legal basis, that the child was emancipated and could receive government benefits, even though Calgaro was a ‘fit parent’ who objected to their actions.”
The procedures, her lawyers contended, violate the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
And Kaardal asserts there are additional problems.
“There’s a real disconnect in the district court decision where the mother’s parental rights are admitted but not honored. At the same time, the district court claims those agencies which are clearly violating Calgaro’s acknowledged rights are doing nothing wrong,” he said.
Kaardal said the U.S. Court of Appeals “needs to untangle this legally incompatible scenario by stating how the law of parental rights and emancipation work administratively by addressing emancipation law and procedures in a way that protects parental rights.”
“Most importantly, the court must ensure that any state law violating those parental rights is struck down as unconstitutional,” he said.