SAINT LOUIS COUNTY, Minn. — Anmarie Calgaro, the mother of a 17-year-old boy who moved out of her home almost two years ago and began living as a “transgendered” girl, has not been able to obtain her child’s medical or school records.
Without Calgaro’s consent, her son is seeking to medically alter his sexual characteristics.
Calgaro’s attorneys say she also has no legal recourse under Minnesota state law to even challenge her child’s claimed status as an emancipated minor. A local legal-aid clinic said the boy is considered to be emancipated, even though an official court order has never been entered to that effect.
“The dispute is about whether Ms. Calgaro has a right to notice and an opportunity to be heard before all her parental rights are terminated,” said Erick Kaardal, a special counsel for the Thomas More Society, who is representing Calgaro.
Kaardal told the Register that Calgaro, an evangelical Christian who is concerned about her child’s decision to seek medical treatment to “change” his sex, previously went to several other attorneys, who told her there was nothing she could do because relevant state law does not allow for parents to fight back.
Through her lawyers, Calgaro filed a federal lawsuit on Nov. 16 against the Minnesota government agencies and medical service providers for usurping her parental rights.
“Anmarie has to go to federal court to break down this barrier, so she has the right to go to state court,” Kaardal said.
Calgaro’s predicament is not as uncommon as some observers might think. Over the last 30 years, parents across the country have gradually been stripped of their rights to make decisions for, or even with, their children on sexual and reproductive issues, said Mary Rice Hasson, director of the Catholic Women’s Forum and a fellow in the Catholic Studies Program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.
“Parents probably know that the states differ over whether children can consent to an abortion without parental notification or consent, but parents may not realize that they have more rights over a child’s abortion decision than they do over other decisions related to the child’s sexuality and gender,” Hasson told the Register.
Restrictions on Parents
Hasson noted that, according to the Guttmacher Institute, all 50 states allow children, typically at age 12, to consent to their own treatment for sexually transmitted infections. No states require parental notification, and only a few permit it. Also, the majority of states let minors, age 12 and over, obtain contraceptives without parental consent.
“In other words, parents have no right to know when their own child is at risk of harm from sexual activity,” Hasson said, adding that those laws limiting parents’ rights were driven by feminist ideologues as well as the contraception/abortion industry.
Said Hasson, “Businesses like Planned Parenthood, the Guttmacher Institute and (the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States) make millions of dollars off the sex-related education, counseling and medical treatments they peddle to young consumers — our children.”
Hasson also noted that new school policies related to sexual orientation and gender identity — based on the premise that parents cannot be trusted to do what is right for their children — are being adopted at the district and municipal levels. School districts are increasingly prohibiting school personnel from revealing a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity to the parents, unless the child gives permission. The ACLU and advocacy groups publish materials saying that schools have no right to “out” a student to parents or guardians.
Said Hasson, “These attempts to limit parents’ involvement betray an ideological bias: They presume that the only healthy approach ‘affirms’ the child’s same-sex attraction or ‘transgender’ identity, and that conservative or religious parents shouldn’t be allowed to interfere with the child’s discovery of his or her ‘true self.’”
Meanwhile, some states have even enacted policies to permit gender-dysphoric children (children who identify with the sex opposite to their biological sexual identity) to consent to cross-sex hormone treatment or to disfiguring surgeries. For example, Oregon allows 15-year-old children to consent to “gender transition” surgery without parental permission.
The Situation in Minnesota
Michele Lentz, president of the Minnesota Child Protection League, a nonprofit that is also helping Calgaro defend her parental rights, told the Register that she has received complaints from other parents who described receiving medical bills for their children but were not told by medical providers what services the minors had obtained.
“There is a frustration in Minnesota, with the law generally, as it pertains to non-emergency medical services being provided to teenage children without parental consent and without parental information,” said Lentz, who added that Calgaro has the right to have the state hear her concerns over her child’s choice to seek “gender reassignment” medical treatment at such a young age.
Said Lentz, “To remove such an important person, the parent, in the process of [the child’s] life is, in our view, an action that can potentially do harm to him emotionally, and certainly physically, as he’s being prescribed drugs that I don’t think anyone knows the long-term effects of.”
According to Calgaro’s lawsuit, her son moved out of her home in early 2015 and moved in with his father. Calgaro said she never surrendered her legal custody or parental rights, and she never tried to sever their relationship as mother and child. Calgaro said her son refused to return home.
But in June 2015, the child, then 15, went to a Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid Clinic, where an emancipation document was drawn up claiming that Calgaro had cut off contact with her child, did not report him as a runaway for six months after he left home and did not try to bring him home.
The document, signed by a staff attorney at the legal clinic, declared the child to be legally emancipated under state law because Calgaro had “given up control and custody.”
“Suddenly, my son, without any notice to me, no longer was under my supervision,” Calgaro told reporters during a press conference to announce the lawsuit’s filing. Calgaro said she felt robbed of the opportunity to help her son make good decisions and to be a key advocate in his life.
Calgaro also said she was never informed or consulted when her son began receiving “major elective medical services” at Park Nicollet Health Services in Minneapolis to “transition” from a boy to a girl, with the medical expenses paid for by state funds. The child has also received drugs to assist in the “transition.”
No Formal Ruling
Even though the child — who will turn 18 next summer — is living in his own apartment and recognized by county, school and medical authorities as independent, a court has never issued a formal ruling that he is emancipated. In fact, according to the lawsuit, the child has twice petitioned the state to change his name to a female name, but those requests have been denied because there is no official court order of emancipation.
Calgaro is demanding that the medical service agencies provide her with her son’s medical records, and she also wants school officials to turn over the child’s school records, which, to date, she has also been unable to get without a court order.
“We don’t get a day in court before the medical service provider terminates parental rights,” said Kaardal, who added that Calgaro, if given the opportunity, would have told officials that her child had been cared for in her home.
“My client, who has legal custody, has a good relationship with the son, except on this one issue,” Kaardal said. “He’s rebelling and wants to be on his own.”
In the press conference announcing the lawsuit, according to published reports, Calgaro said she was not opposed to the sex-change procedure, but that she just wanted him to “slow down.” The issue, she said, is not so much the “transitioning” as it is her son being able to make major medical decisions without her input.
Said Calgaro, “I’m also taking this action for the benefit of all parents and families who may be facing the same violation of their rights — so that they and others in the future may be spared from the same tragic events.”
Register correspondent Brian Fraga writes from Fall River, Massachusetts.