While it is unlikely to pass, new legislation criminalizing the refusal of parents to affirm their children’s LGBT identity would trigger a likely successful constitutional challenge. WJLA reported that Democratic Virginia Delegate Elizabeth Guzman will introduce a bill that will expand the state’s definition of child abuse and neglect to include parents and guardians who do not affirm the gender identity declared by their children. In the meantime, a journalist, David Leavitt, reported Virginia state senate candidate Tina Ramirez to Child Protective Services over a tweet celebrating Columbus Day as creating an abusive environment for her children. Such unhinged efforts are further pushing parental rights higher among the top concerns for voters.
Leavitt, who has written for media outlets like bylines for CBS and Yahoo, was upset when Ramirez tweeted on Columbus Day that “I teach my daughter real American history. I refuse to join the radical left’s campaign to erase history.”
Leavitt lost it and called on his supporters to file complaints with child welfare:
“Why are you celebrating torture, rape, murder, and enslavement?” Can someone please call child care services on Tina Ramirez who’s teaching her child to be a racist?”
He then reported that he was miffed that he was on hold with child welfare to report Ramirez:
“The Virginia State hotline for child abuse has a 43+ minute hold and is experiencing ‘high call volumes’ with 14 callers ahead of me. This is unacceptable. How many people try to report child abuse and hang up? How many children will continue to be abused?”
Ramirez responded: “Mighty bold and liberal of you to lecture a Hispanic mother with a black daughter on racism.”
Leavitt then declared again that he was reporting her to authorities for how she was raising her children: “The lady who’s teaching her kids how to be racist thinks I’m “bold.” Does she know I’m [on] hold to report her to child and family services?”
It did not seem to matter to Leavitt that he was jamming the lines of the child welfare office with frivolous claims as people tried to get through to report real and dangerous situations. Those children would have to wait as Leavitt told his over 300,000 Twitter followers to flood the lines.
The license assumed by Leavitt to dictate the values of parents is hardly unique. Indeed, the new legislation would make it a crime not to recognize a change in gender identity of a child.
Democratic Virginia Delegate Elizabeth Guzman proclaimed that it should be a crime for parents to hold an opposing view on such changes for their children. She was less specific on the details: “It could be a felony, it could be a misdemeanor, but we know that CPS charge could harm your employment, could harm their education, because nowadays many people do a CPS database search before offering employment.”
Such a law would be flagrantly unconstitutional under the First Amendment if written as described. However, it likely does not matter for Guzman any more than it mattered to Leavitt that he was making a frivolous report to child welfare.
Notably, both Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va) and Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D., Va.,) were campaigning last week with Guzman in the midst of the outcry over her push for this criminal law.
With the recent election of Glenn Youngkin on a parental rights platform, Virginia is shaping up as ground zero for the issue. It is clearly gaining importance in other states with education as a midterm election issue.