Press Release

Parents turn to Supreme Court for justice after child is removed by state Indiana wrongfully kept transgender child away from their home, now they want the state held accountable

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Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

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United States Supreme Court Building in Washington DC, USA.

WASHINGTON – A Catholic couple in Indiana asked the Supreme Court today to hold the state accountable for keeping their child out of their home. In M.C. and J.C. v. Indiana Department of Child Services, Indiana investigated Mary and Jeremy Cox because they would not refer to their son using pronouns and a name inconsistent with his biological sex. State courts allowed Indiana to keep the child from their home because of their disagreement with their child—motivated by their religious beliefs—about human sexuality. With the help of Becket and attorney Joshua Hershberger, the Coxes today filed their reply brief at the Supreme Court, asking the Justices to take their case. 

Mary and Jeremy Cox are a faithful Catholic couple living in Indiana. In 2019, their son informed them that he identified as a girl. Because of their religious belief that God creates human beings with immutable sex—male or female—they could not refer to him using pronouns and a name inconsistent with his biology. The Coxes also believed that he needed help for underlying mental health concerns, including an eating disorder. To address both issues, they provided therapeutic care for their child’s gender dysphoria and scheduled appointments with a specialist to help him with the eating disorder. In 2021, Indiana began investigating the Coxes after a report that they were not referring to their child by his preferred gender identity. Indiana then removed the teen from the parents’ custody and placed him in a home that would affirm his preferred identity. 

“This is what every parent is afraid of. We love our son and wanted to care for him, but the state of Indiana robbed us of that opportunity by taking him from our home and banning us from speaking to him about gender,” said Mary and Jeremy Cox. “We are hopeful that the Justices will take our case and protect other parents from having to endure the nightmare we did.”  

At the initial trial court hearing, Indiana officials argued the child “should be in a home where she is [ac]cepted for who she is.” The court restricted the Coxes’ visitation time to a few hours once a week and barred them from speaking to their child about their religious views on human sexuality and gender identity. 

After completing its investigation, Indiana made an about-face and abandoned all allegations against Mary and Jeremy, admitting that the accusations of abuse were unsubstantiated. However, Indiana surprised the parents by arguing that the disagreement over gender identity was distressing to their child and contributed to his eating disorder—even though that disorder became worse after he was removed and placed in a transition-affirming home. The trial court relied on Indiana’s argument to keep the child out of his parents’ custody and keep the gag order in place. In short, even though the court agreed that the Coxes were fit parents, it upheld the removal of their child. An appeals court upheld the removal.  

“If this can happen in Indiana, it can happen anywhere. Tearing a child away from loving parents because of their religious beliefs, which are shared by millions of Americans, is an outrage to the law, parental rights, and basic human decency,” said Lori Windham, vice president and senior counsel at Becket. “If the Supreme Court doesn’t take this case, how many times will this happen to other families?” 

The Coxes are represented by Becket, together with attorney Joshua Hershberger in Madison, Indiana. 

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, contact Ryan Colby atmedia@becketlaw.orgor 202-349-7219.