A Minnesota mother is suing St. Louis County government agencies and medical providers on the grounds that they violated her parental rights by treating her transgender teenage son as an adult even though he hadn't been granted court approval to be legally emancipated from his parents.
On Tuesday, Anmarie Calgaro, with the help of lawyers from the Thomas More Society, filed a federal lawsuit against St. Louis County, the St. Louis County School District, the county's health and human services, Fairview Health Services and Park Nicollet Health Services, and accused the parties of usurping her parental rights by granting her 17-year-old son de-facto emancipation from his mother even though a court never awarded his son legal emancipation.
According to the lawsuit, the child, listed in the litigation as "J.D.K.," is living separately from his parents and is being given money by the county to live apart from his mother and father. In consultation with the Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid Clinic, J.D.K. was issued a "letter of emancipation" in 2015 even though a court order was not issued to make such an emancipation legal under Minnesota law.
Despite the fact that the emancipation has no legal standing in court and the the St. Louis County District Court even ruled in January that the child could not even change his legal name without parental permission, the school district, the department of health and human services and the medical providers have all treated J.D.K. as if he is legally emancipated from his mother and won't give Calgaro any access to his records or decision-making ability in regards to his health or education.
Not only has Calgaro not had any say in her son's health and education decisions, she was not consulted before the St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services paid for Park Nicollet Minneapolis Gender Services to give the boy hormone replacement treatment and Fairview Health Services to provide him with narcotics.
The son is also listed as a defendant in the lawsuit.
"The lawsuit that we are filing right now in the federal district court is a federal due process clause claim," lawyer Erick Kaardal said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
"Anmarie is the mother of the child, who without parental consent or court order, has been able to get government funding for an elective medical procedure from Park Nicollet to change his identity ... from boy to girl."
By law, Kaardal said the medical service providers do actually have the ability to determine emancipation "without reference to parental consent or court order." However, there are no statutes on the books that give the county government or school districts the ability to be able to make their own determination regarding a minor's emancipation.
"Under the judicial website, you will see that the court says that if you are a teenager, you can file a common law petition for emancipation. That's fine. But here, J.D.K. didn't need that court petition for emancipation because the governmental agencies here — the school district, the county, other state agencies — just treated him as emancipated anyway," Kaardal explained.
"So, if there had been a court order on emancipation, then Anmarie would have received a notice of opportunity to be heard. But here, because of the way the county operates, the way state operates, the way school district operates, the way the medical providers operate, Anmarie doesn't have any right to notice to be heard in court."
Kaardall additionally argued that the statute giving medical providers the ability to determine a child's emancipation while not giving the parents the right to petition for de-emancipation is unconstitutional.
"The statute is unconstitutional because it doesn't provide a procedure for when the medical service providers in the county decide to treat the child as emancipated, for Anmarie to file a petition in the court," Kaardall added. "She is not getting her day in court. This lawsuit isn't about, in a sense, the parental rights themselves. It's about a day in court to defend the parental rights."
"Anmarie has lost complete control of her teenage son without any court hearings. Because of Minnesota statutes and common law, she can't even go to state court," he continued. "If she went to state court, there is no claim. She can't do anything. What we need is a federal court decision saying that Anmarie's federal due process rights have been violated ... and that she is entitled to a hearing prior to her parental rights being terminated by the county."
Speaking at the press conference, Calgaro said that not only has she not been consulted about her son's health choices, she has also been "forbidden to be involved."
"I believe my constitutional civil rights to have my case heard in a court of law has been stripped from me," Calgaro said. "If this had been a child custody case, I would have had my day in court. If my son were being placed in foster care, I would have had my day in court. Or if he had been referred to child protection, I would have had my day in court."
"I am firmly committed to what is best for me son. I am his mother and he has always been and always will be welcome in our home," she added. "As a mother, I know his physical and emotional needs in a way no one else can. I also have a commitment to him that no one else has. I feel that not only was I robbed of the opportunity to help and guide my son make good decisions but I also feel that he was robbed of a key advocate in his life — his mother."
The Christian Post reached out to Linnea Mirsch, the interim director of St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services, for comment. However, she told CP that the county policy precludes her from issuing any statement on pending litigation and said the country has "no further comment on this matter at this time."