In a move that could usher in a significant shift in how child custody cases are handled in the state, the California legislature approved Assembly Bill 957 this week.
The bill, which passed the California Assembly by a party-line vote of 57 to 16 and the state Senate by a 30 to 9 vote, adds a new dimension to child custody considerations as current California law dictates that when deciding child custody, the court must consider various factors, including the child’s health, safety, and welfare.
If signed into law by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, AB 957 will require judges to take into account a parent’s affirmation of their child’s gender identity when determining custody arrangements.
Critics argue that this could have serious implications for parental rights and may lead to charges of child abuse or neglect for those who do not participate in their child’s transgenderism.
The California legislature approved a bill this week that would punish parents who do not “affirm” their child’s gender identity. https://t.co/9nhcaUr8lj
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) September 9, 2023
The bill’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Lori D. Wilson, cited her own experience as a mother of a transgender son as the inspiration behind the legislation, which was introduced in February.
Emphasizing the importance of family acceptance in the well-being of LGBTQ+ youth, Wilson stated, “Research demonstrates that family acceptance of LGBTQ+ youth is a crucial protective factor in combating depression and substance abuse. Well-rounded social support from friends and family members is strongly associated with positive mental development, physical health, and overall well-being.”
“I look forward to working with Governor Newsom to secure his signature and ensure that our youth are protected,” she added.
While proponents of the bill insist that it prioritizes the mental and physical health of transgender and gender-diverse youth, opponents are deeply concerned about the potential consequences as they point out that it might affect parents practicing certain religions that do not accommodate the concept of gender affirmation.
Critics of AB 957 point to the fact that it threatens the long-standing standard of “health, safety, and welfare” of a child as outlined in the California Family Code. Under the California Penal Code, violating this standard can carry penalties, leading parents, activists, and lawmakers to speculate about the possible legal repercussions of not affirming a child’s gender identity.
Sen. Scott Wilk (R-CA) voiced his strong reservations, suggesting that the bill could force parents to leave the state. “If you love your children, you need to flee California,” he warned during a recent hearing.