Sunday, March 3, 2024

MT Couple Says State Took Their Daughter Because They Opposed Her Gender Transition

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A Montana couple alleges they lost custody of their teenage daughter to the state’s Child and Family Services agency because they opposed her desire to undergo gender transition.

Todd and Krista Kolstad of Glasgow said their nightmare began back in August 2023 when they learned their 14-year-old daughter Jennifer (not her real name) told a friend at school she had suicidal thoughts. The story was first reported by the outlet Reddux. 

A CFS caseworker reportedly showed up at the Kolstads’ home later that same day to interview the teen and to do an inspection. Jennifer told the caseworker, she drank toilet bowl cleaner and took painkillers in an attempt to end her life, the couple told media personality Megyn Kelly.

The Kolstads didn’t believe their daughter but took her to the emergency room. The girl reportedly did not show any symptoms of poisoning, and a test conducted at the hospital also came back negative. 

Medical notes written by the staff also revealed Jennifer asked to be identified as a male and wanted to be called “Leo.” The Kolstads said they told the staff they objected to this, and asked them to call the girl by her birth name. 

“We were very clear to the emergency room staff as well as {CFS} that this goes against our values, morals, and our religious beliefs,” Krista said, but the hospital staff refused to listen. “They told me to call their lawyer if I have an issue as they will do what the patient tells them,” Krista recalled to Reddux. 

The teenager had expressed gender identity confusion before, telling people at church her name was “Leo.” Responding to this behavior, the couple said they put their daughter in counseling. 

The Kolstads believe “transgenderism is more on the make-believe scale than on something that is appropriate for a child,” according to megynkelly.com. 

Krista told The Daily Mail her stepdaughter had a tough upbringing and has several undiagnosed health concerns, including attention-seeking behavior and lying. The couple believe these mental problems contributed to her urge to transition and these facts were overlooked by CFS. 

After Jennifer spent several days in the hospital, her medical team decided the girl should go to a mental health facility for additional treatment. 

The Kolstads said they wanted their daughter to be placed in a facility in Billings. But instead, the medical team spoke about having Jennifer’s treatment conducted in a Wyoming facility.  

The couple said they became concerned when they found out the state doesn’t have the same ban on gender assignment procedures for minors that Montana and the surrounding states do. Current Wyoming law requires parental consent before a child receives transgender-related surgeries, but the law is more ambiguous on minors who have been emancipated from their parents, according to cowbowstatedaily.com. 

“We were concerned that she could go to Wyoming and have puberty blockers or anything else that she wanted to do this transition, and we were not okay with that at all,” Krista told Kelly. 

After being told their daughter would be placed in the Billings clinic as soon as an opening became available, they later received a telephone call informing them Jennifer would be taken to a facility in Wyoming instead. 

“Within 10 minutes of that call, the children’s services worker and the police show up at our door serving us with papers to remove her from our care, saying that we were unable or unwilling to provide her medical care,” Krista recalled. “And that’s just not true at all.”

The couple said they were left feeling “shocked,” “helpless,” and “crushed.” They found out their daughter was living at the Wyoming clinic as a boy named Leo, according to megynkelly.com. 

In September, Jennifer was back in Montana living in a group home where she has continued to live as a male. 

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Couple Loses Custody, Defies Gag Order

Earlier this month, the Kolstads lost custody of their daughter Jennifer to the state’s Child and Family Services (CFS) agency when a court determined transitioning was “in {Jennifer’s} therapeutic interest” and her parents are “not following recommended therapy,” according to megynkelly.com. 

The teen will remain in state custody for six months before being sent to live with her birth mother in Canada, according to multiple outlets. 

The judge imposed a gag order, but the couple said they could not stay silent. 

“We’re doing this because we feel like we have no choice,” Krista told Kelly. “Because our rights have been so trampled on, now we’re at a point where our family unit has been destroyed and the best thing we can do is stand up for other families and get the word out and not allow this to happen to anyone else again.”

In an email on Monday, the Kolstads’ media representative told CBN the couple believes they soon will be arrested for breaking the judge’s gag order. The couple is currently out of state, caring for a sick family member. 

“Our top priority is to be reunited with our 14-year-old daughter who was recently taken from us by the state of Montana because, after agreeing to in-patient care for her underlying mental health issues, we refused to let her be sent across state lines to Wyoming where they lack laws against youth ‘transition’,” the email said. 

The couple’s attorney filed a motion on Monday with the Montana Supreme Court seeking to strike down the judge’s gag order.  The court has not responded yet to the petition. In Montana, all records and reports of child abuse and neglect proceedings are kept confidential as required by state law, according to The Billings Gazette. 

Anyone who knowingly “permits or encourages the unauthorized dissemination” of the contents of case records can be charged with a misdemeanor, the outlet reported. 

Todd Kolstad’s sister set up a GiveSendGo campaign to help with the couple’s legal expenses. 

Montana Governor: State Law and Policy Upheld

Montana Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte heard about the Kolstads’ case and in a series of posts on the social media platform X last week said Montana law and policy have been upheld. 

“Upon hearing recent allegations related to a child welfare case, I asked Lieutenant Governor Kristen Juras — an experienced attorney, constitutional conservative, mother, and grandmother — to review it,” he wrote.

“Consulting with the director of DPHHS and personally examining case documents, Lieutenant Governor Juras has concluded that DPHHS and the court have followed state policy and law in their handling of this tragic case,” Gianforte wrote. 

“I have asked the lieutenant governor to continue monitoring the case as it progresses,” he continued. 

CBN News reached out to Gov. Gianforte for an explanation. In an emailed statement to CBN News, Gianforte’s spokesperson Kaitlin Price said, “While the State of Montana is limited in disclosing the specifics of cases involving minor children in its care due to their sensitive nature, broadly speaking, the state does not remove minors from homes to provide gender transition services or use taxpayer funds to pay for those services while a minor is in the custody of the state.”

 “As outlined in its statement of purpose, Child Protective Services protects children who have been or are at substantial risk of abuse, neglect or abandonment,” Price continued. 

“Furthermore, the Governor has asked his Department of Public Health and Human Services to codify a formal policy and/or develop a regulation to clarify and ensure the definition of abuse or neglect does not include a parent’s right to refuse to provide gender transition services to his or her minor child,” she added. 

The Kolstads’ attorney Matthew Monforton claimed in Monday’s court filing the governor has created a smear campaign against the couple, according to The Billings Gazette. 

“What makes the gag order against the parents particularly odious is the Gianforte administration’s smear campaign against them,” Monforton wrote in the filing. “Gov. Gianforte and his staff are publicly insinuating that H.K.’s seizure was necessitated by some horrifying fact, such as the parents ‘living in absolute filth,’ operating ‘meth labs,’ or being ‘dealers and addicts.'” 

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