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How child custody and gender identity intersect

On Behalf of | Oct 17, 2023 | Child Custody and Visitation

In California, lawmakers are looking out for the welfare of LGBTQ+ children by passing a bill that considers whether a divorced parent affirms their child’s gender identity as a part of the legal custody decision. The bill aims to protect children of divorced parents and has become a topic of political debate. The following points discuss the bill and Governor Gavin Newsome’s decision.

Overview of the legislation

California’s Senate passed Assembly Bill 957. This bill would require judges in custody hearings to consider whether parents affirm their child’s gender identity when deciding on custody and visitation.

The political divide

The bill largely stayed within party lines, with Republicans opposing it and Democrats supporting it. Democrats argued the bill serves as a proactive measure to prevent children from abusive treatment by parents who disagree with their gender identity. Republicans stated their concerns about the government’s interference in decisions they felt belonged strictly to the parents. California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed the bill, saying that the legislation could have a negative impact on the civil rights of vulnerable communities.

The bill’s context

California’s Senate introduced AB 957 at a time when transgender rights and related issues have become a national source of debate. The legislation was aimed at making gender identity just one of the many factors a judge would consider in child custody proceedings, along with a parent’s history of contact with the child and any previous incidents of abuse.

Details of affirmation

The bill did not specify that the courts should be required to prioritize parental gender affirmation over other factors and acknowledged that the situation can vary for each child and their family. The bill included examples of gender affirmation, such as parents allowing their children to play with gender-associated toys, choosing a hair length they feel comfortable with and having the freedom to paint their nails.

Legislation continues to shape the future of LGBTQ+ children in custody cases. In divorce, where child welfare and LGBTQ+ rights intersect, staying informed of ongoing legal developments is crucial.