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Christian Parents Who Lost Custody of Transgender Teen Appeal Case to U.S. Supreme Court

jeremy cox
Screenshot from YouTube / @IndianaFamilyInstitute

Mary and Jeremy Cox, a devout Christian couple in Indiana, lost custody of their biological son in June 2021. The reason? They refused, on biblical grounds, to affirm the 16-year-old’s decision to start identifying as a girl.

During a lengthy investigation and legal battle, the Coxes failed to convince a state agency and lower courts that they deserved custody of the teen, who has now aged out of the foster system. With the assistance of the Indiana Family Institute (IFI), the couple has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case. They expect to hear in April 2024 if that will happen.

Indiana Court Calls This an ‘Extreme Case’

The teen, identified in legal documents as A.C., was removed from Mary and Jeremy Cox’s home after the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) warned a county court the teen was in physical and emotional danger. According to court records, A.C. had developed an eating disorder, was self-isolating, and was in danger of self-harm. A DCS investigator alleged the teen endured abuse from the parents, which they denied.

In accordance with a DCS recommendation, a county judge ordered that A.C. be placed in a foster home that affirmed the teen’s chosen gender identity. The judge also prohibited the Coxes from discussing faith-based beliefs during visits with their teen.

Upon appeal, the Indiana Court of Appeals admitted that a parent-child disagreement usually doesn’t warrant a child’s removal. But “this is an extreme case where Child has reacted to a disagreement with the Parents” in such a way that “seriously endangers Child’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being.”

Although the DCS eventually dropped the abuse allegations, A.C. was never returned to the Cox home. The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that the couple’s rights weren’t violated, because although they “have the right to exercise their religious beliefs…they do not have the right to exercise them in a manner that causes physical or emotional harm” to their child.

Indiana Couple Cites ‘Government Muzzle’ on Rights

In the Coxes’ petition to the Supreme Court, they describe their case as “novel and chilling,” saying their “deeply held religious beliefs and best judgment” about parenting shouldn’t be subjected to a “government muzzle.”

IFI attorney Joshua Hershberger, who is representing the couple, wrote, “Fit parents have the right to raise their children according to their beliefs.” Urging SCOTUS to hear his clients’ case, he wrote that the “rights of parents everywhere in the United States are at risk.”

A.C. is now a legal adult and can’t be forced to return home, but the Coxes said they fear the state will come after their other children. In a video posted to YouTube in January 2023, the couple described how they “had to become reluctant warriors” to try to safeguard their teen.