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House GOP seeks to stop courts from intervening when transgender kids are at risk of suicide

The northwestern exterior of the Indiana Statehouse at dusk. The building is illuminated from outside and within, while the sky above is a dark blue.
Brandon Smith
/
IPB News
House Republicans advanced a bill to stop courts from taking transgender children out of their homes if the children are at risk of suicide.

House Republicans voted for a bill Wednesday that would stop Indiana courts from intervening when a transgender child is at risk of suicide.

Under current law, if a child is a serious risk to themselves or others and won’t get the care they need from their parent or guardian, a court can remove the child from their home.

Under Rep. Dale DeVon’s (R-Granger) bill, HB1407, the court could no longer do that if the parent or guardian is denying gender-affirming physical or mental health care for their transgender child.

“The biggest issue is protecting the parents,” DeVon said.

READ MORE: What is gender-affirming care?

Rep. Wendy McNamara (R-Evansville) is one of a few Republicans who voted against the bill. She said she’s fine with protecting parents' rights when there’s disagreement over their child being transgender. But she said the measure goes far beyond that.

“It might put jeopardy hundreds of other kids in our system,” McNamara said.

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The bill's origin is a court case currently being considered by the Indiana Supreme Court.

The court record shows that the Department of Child Services responded to multiple reports that a mother was emotionally and mentally abusing her child because the child is transgender.

The mother had taken the child out of school and discontinued therapy for them. The child did not feel safe in the home and DCS found that the risk of suicide or self-harm was more likely if the child were returned to the mother's care.

The court also took the child out of their parents' custody because they had developed an eating disorder that DCS believed would continue if sent back home.

DCS reported that the mother called her child "the bitch that killed my son." DeVon described her as a "strong Catholic woman" and "loving mother" whose child was, in his view, unjustly taken from her.

The House approved the bill 58 to 33, sending it to the Senate.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.