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(LifeSiteNews) — State officials in Indiana admitted there was no abuse or neglect, but they still sought to remove a teen from his biological parents’ home because their religious beliefs conflicted with his preferred gender identity. Why? Mary and Jeremy Cox “would not refer to their son using pronouns and a name inconsistent with his biological sex.”

Although the state court found no evidence of abuse or neglect, the court ruled that the Coxes’ son should be placed “in a home that would affirm his preferred gender identity.”

An appeals court upheld that ruling, “reasoning that the Coxes’ First Amendment rights did not apply to private speech in the home.”

Jeanette Cooper lost custody of her child too. Like the Cox case, Illinois officials found no evidence of abuse or neglect. Cooper’s ex-husband, however, claimed she was an unfit mother because she did not support her 12-year-old daughter’s desire to transition. As of now, Cooper can only communicate with her daughter through the U.S. Mail. Her ex-husband has repeatedly denied her requests to see her child.

Parental rights subversion

To illustrate the dangerous direction our country is taking, a bill has been introduced in the Illinois House that would amend the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act by changing the definition of abused child to include a minor who has been denied gender-affirming services. The bill would also amend the Consent by Minors to Health Care Services Act to allow a minor to consent to their own ‘gender-affirming services’ while protecting health care professionals from punishment for providing them.

The Cox and Cooper cases add flesh and bone to a parent’s worst nightmare: losing a beloved child simply because someone else deems the parent’s religious convictions unacceptable. Even worse, these gender-affirming procedures the courts are so intent on facilitating can cause permanent damage. In other words, the courts are condoning that which they claim to be protecting: the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of minors.

Even the makers of Lupron, the number one prescribed puberty blocker in the United States, list “emotional stability” as a side effect and recommend that those who take the drug should be monitored “for development or worsening of psychiatric symptoms during treatment.” Taking Lupron can also lead to osteoporosis, seizures, and cognitive impairment. Combine Lupron with cross-sex hormones and the side effects increase in severity.

Parental safeguards

What can parents do to prevent their children from being ripped from a loving, safe environment and placed in a state-approved environment that will encourage such dangerous, life-altering treatments and procedures?

First and foremost, pray for God’s wisdom and guidance. Proverbs 3:5 reminds us that we cannot depend on our “own understanding.” We cannot raise our children without God’s help under the best of circumstances. We are to seek his guidance in every matter. He has promised to provide the wisdom we need, even in the murky swamp of gender ideology. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask of God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).

Second, provide a safe place at home to discuss LGBT matters. Don’t allow fear to keep you silent or uninformed. Your children need to know that their home is a nonjudgmental place to talk about how they or their peers are feeling and dealing with these issues. If your child is uncertain about his or her identity, promote healthy gender identity in your role as a mom or a dad. Highlight people in the Bible who had diverse gifts and talents.

Third, spend time with your children and their friends. Celebrate your child’s strengths, interests, and talents. Know what social media platforms your children are using and what websites they are visiting.

Fourth, do your research. Become educated about gender and sexual ideology as well as critical race theory. Choose reliable, faith-based resources.

Fifth, find out what your local public-school administration and school board members are promoting. What is their gender-based agenda? What is their attitude toward student and parent rights? Find out what is being taught about gender in your child’s classroom. Volunteer at your child’s school if possible. You may also want to consider moving to a different school district, county, or state if your rights as a parent are being undermined.

Sixth, research your congressional representatives and senators. How are they voting on gender- and sexuality-related issues?

If local, county, or state officials launch an investigation related to your child’s safety, consult a lawyer whose religious beliefs are aligned with yours. You may also want to make media outlets aware of your situation and your perspective on it. Above all, put together a team of prayer warriors to consistently bring your situation before God.

Family is God’s idea. He has given parents — not government — the authority to raise their children. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 is as relevant today as it was in Moses’ time. Talk about God’s ways and God’s Word. Pray as a family. Celebrate the God-given identity of each family member. And God will honor your obedience.

In addition to founding Help4Families and Living Stones Ministries, Denise Shick is the author of four children’s books and several nonfiction books, including My Daddy’s Secret, Understanding Gender Confusion — A Faith-Based Perspective, and Transgender Confusion — A Biblical Q&A for Families. She is an ordained minister and has a BA in psychology.