9.17.2018

Families and Transgender Confusion

Transgender issues have seemed to become an important consideration in high schools and clinics across America.  Breakpoint, a publication of the Colson Center, recently covered the push toward child gender change, noting that The Economist recently reported a flood of adolescent girls seeking treatment for gender dysphoria over the last eight years.  “Transgender identity has become a trend, as ‘droves of adolescents, with no prior history of gender confusion,’ are suddenly announcing they’re transgender after ‘immersing themselves in niche websites,’ or ‘after similar announcements from friends’.”  This confusion has been identified as “social and peer contagion,” as in “some teenage circles, particularly among girls, it’s reaching epidemic proportions. In a third of the peer groups researched, half or more of the individuals involved came out as transgender. To put this in perspective, less than one percent of Americans aged 18-24 identify as trans. In fact, gender-transition is not only fashionable, “Most children,” says the Economist, “who came out became more popular as a result”.”

Cases such as In re JNS of an Ohio questioning teen present some challenging concerns for the best interests of the child standard, as there the court declined to make any decision on custody or gender transition, but rather demurred, ordering all parties to wait for the child to reach the age of majority.  The judge expressed grave concern that 100% of the clinic’s questioning patients, all children, were recommended by them for gender reassignment surgery, according to the doctor treating the child JNS.  Children can get caught up in trends from those they trust, including peers, doctors, teachers, and extended family.

A faith perspective sheds valuable light on the matter of gender identity.  Christianity embraces the concept that body and soul together form an integrated unity, that each human being is an embodied soul, rather than one individual in a misfitted body.  Holding that the biologically engendered human body is teleological, people of faith view one’s body as having a structure and purpose ordered for male or female sexuality. 

Transgender people may feel they are trapped in ‘the wrong body’ and sense a mismatch between physical sex and psychological gender, experiencing gender dysphoria.  Facebook, for example, has over fifty different genders with which users may identify.  Transgender advocates might argue that gender identity is not rooted in biology, but that gender identity is independent from the body.  Others may argue that gender is merely a social construct, a product of social forces, where “gender is one’s innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves.”   This notion has been expressed in constitutional jurisprudence in Planned Parenthood v. Casey: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”  Sexual orientation and gender identity laws, however, may seem to open opportunities for some children and parents, or they may actually work to place heavy pressure on those children and parents who may be struggling with gender dysphoria to begin transitioning process through hormones and surgery. 

Children and their families need places where they can be safe to find hope and restoration, and the freedom to think through the best process for a child whose body is constantly changing during adolescence.  Courts are available merely as a last resort to help heal and restore those conflicts, rather than to tear apart families over them, as noted in JNS, to “give a voice and a pathway to youth similarly situated as JNS without attributing fault to the parents and involving them in protracted litigation which can and does destroy the family unit.” 

Family restoration encourages children and parents to wait and rethink such a dramatic decision.  As Breakpoint stated,

… Transgender ideology today will gladly sacrifice a teen’s true health on the altar of life-altering decisions like hormone therapy and even gender reassignment surgery. We must support our own teens in understanding who they are. They must know that their identity lies not in the latest mixed-up gender ideology or in keeping up with their friends’ fashion choices, but only in the God Who created us male and female.

9.11.2018

Restoring the Foundations of Marriage & Family

Can the foundations of marriage and family be restored and strengthened in America today? Prof Craig Stern and I were very proud to join Alliance Defending Freedom’s Jeff Shafer, a 1995 Regent Law alumni, who hosted "The Implications of Obergefell and Its Aftermath for Law and the Human Person" at St John Paul II Pontifical Institute in Washington, D.C.  this past weekend.

Gathering a small group of faith-based scholars, law professors, lawyers, and theologians to discuss next steps to restoring our social foundations, we participated in a significant exploration and discussion of the purpose of marriage and family today in America.

In many of the discussions it was clear that the structured and thoughtful dialogue was helpful to reconceiving how and why marriage is welcomed, or not, into American culture, why it is so critical to civilization, why it is key for the church in America, and how marriage itself is absolutely and ultimately reflective of God. 

As those discussions were generated and developing, Psalm 11:3 was ever present in my mind - “When the foundations are undermined, what can a righteous person do?" - as there a tiny group was considering the real and meaningful possibilities for positively affecting culture, rather than merely pursuing an easier course of a gloomy rhetorical lament. 

Family restoration is possible, as one family at a time can quickly add up to a restored civilization.  To learn more about what you and your family can do to make a plan to move forward for a stronger American civilization consider these resources:

Craig Stern, “The Coherence of Natural Inalienable Rights,” Lynne Marie Kohm and Sandra Alcaide, Obergefell: A Game-Changer for Women, and Jeffrey A. Brauch, What is Flawed Perfection? , an overview of his latest book Flawed Perfection: What It Means to Be Human and Why It Matters for Culture, Politics, and Law.

 

 

9.05.2018

NCAA Ineffective in Protecting Student Athletes from Sexual Assault

Michigan State received a letter from the NCAA stating no violations have been found in an inquiry into its handling of the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal…” according to Sports Illustrated.  The NCAA could not find that MSU “lacked institutional control” despite Nassar being a member of its faculty.  Furthermore, the NCAA found that MSU did not violate NCAA guidelines requiring that schools provide “an environment that fosters fairness, sportsmanship, safety, honesty and positive relationships between student-athletes and representatives of the institution.” 

CNN reported in January of 2018 that the NCAA opened its investigation into how MSU Athletics handled the claims of sexual abuse, as several women and girls testified that they had complained of Dr. Nassar’s abuse of them and were told that they “probably did not understand medical technique.”  Victims were not taken seriously when they reported the abuse to MSU athletics, and the NCAA investigation clearing MSU of any violation makes it appear that those victims are not taken seriously now.  MSU athletics silenced those victims when they reported the abuse, and the NCAA is silencing their complaints and the resulting harm now with a report that clears the university completely of any wrongdoing. 

It is a sad and tragic incongruity that although Nassar was an MSU faculty member who repeatedly harmed female athletes across multiple sports for years, yet the NCAA is revealing that it is completely ineffective in protecting those athletes then, or any in the future.  Rather, their investigation seemingly exonerates MSU athletics of any responsibility in the Nassar abuse of hundreds of female athletes for more than a decade.

Victims and their families were clearly harmed and shattered, as their safety was not protected in a positive environment fostered by the institution.  Years of sexual abuse and reports of that abuse being silenced or ignored by university officials should have raised grave concern for the NCAA, the collegiate athletic organization charged with protecting student athletes.  Raising questions as to the relevancy and effectiveness of the NCAA, this outcome is humiliating and destructive to student athletes across the country who are overseen by a regulating institution that appears impotent to protect them from obvious harm.

The victims and their families are devastated.  Future athletes and their families have to wonder about the relevancy and effectiveness of the NCAA in its lack of protection of student athletes moving forward.

9.01.2018

Family Protection, Restoration & the Queen of Soul

The passing of Aretha Franklin reveals so much about her talents and her legacy, while also revealing a great deal about each of us.  She was an icon for the ages who truly impacted the world with her melodic gifts.  Conspicuous in its absence is the planning that great and wonderful lady might have done in advance to protect her legacy for her family and for the world who has so loved and appreciated her music.  Her $88 million estate will pass according to the laws of Michigan and be subject to federal estate tax of 40% of that estate, or more than $35 million. Your family, like hers,  might have benefited from guidance in these affairs, with directions for handling her estate while maximizing her legacy for generations.  
Protecting your family in the event of your death is one of the most important things you can do to advance family harmony and restoration in your own home, and in our culture – for both financial stewardship and your family legacy.  Traditional estate planning fosters a discussion about financial assets in the event of death, but planning for a family legacy happens every day of our lives, and continues after one’s death. 
The legacy that you ultimately leave behind is the sum total of your life, your family members who continue on after your passing, and your stewardship of both for an Eternal Kingdom.  You can be proactive and intentional about building each of these aspects of your life.  You can determine the best personal family strategy and legal structure, and both can survive beyond your lifetime, protecting, celebrating, and influencing the world for eternity long after you are gone. 
Create that process within your family now.  Training your children in that stewardship of finances, creativity, personal responsibility, self-governance, and spiritual discipleship to change the worldBeginning that process as early as possible during your lifetime will not only ensure that you can create the legacy you want to leave behind, but it can direct lives for God’s glory, and can ensure that there is a seamless transition of the management and control of your legacy and assets when you die.  And it will insure that the family harmony and family restoration you have focused on for a lifetime will outlast you. Get a plan in place for the custody of your minor children, particularly if you have challenging family circumstances that could hinder you providing for the best interests of your child. Get a plan in place to protect your spouse or significant other as well, and create a strategy that not only enhances your finances for your children, but also provides for a charitable legacy, as not planning may simply default your money to the IRS.  And consider creating an ethical will that can celebrate your life and share your life goals with loved ones for generations to come.
Have a plan for your life, and your legacy.  Protecting your family during your life and in the event of your death is one of the most important things you can do to advance family harmony and restoration in your own home, and in our culture – for both financial stewardship and your family legacy.  Doing so while you are alive with an eye toward family restoration can change the world.

6.26.2018

Pro-Life Pregnancy Resource Centers Cannot be Forced to Advertise Abortion

Pro-life pregnancy resource centers in California cannot be forced to advertise abortion, according to the Supreme Court of the United States in NIFLA v. Becerra.  The 5-4 opinion was authored by Justice Clarence Thomas.  Read the full text of the case here.

The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA)the nationwide pro-life legal organization representing nearly 1,500 member pregnancy centers — many of whom are faith based in their philosophy on life - has just achieved a victory for pro-life free speech in America as the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the coercive law that forced pro-life pregnancy centers and their staff and volunteers to advertise tax-funded abortions. 

This is good news for pro-life free speech across the country, and it is even better news for the families that would have lost children to state funded abortions in California.  Focusing on protecting women and children is the path to the future for America and family restoration.  

6.19.2018

A Child Focus on Immigration

Can a nation fix one of its most prevalent and primary problems by placing a focus on children? 
I have long advocated that a concentration on what is best for a child can bring a demise to rampant family breakdown.  See Rethinking Mom and Dad, describing the importance of dual gender parents, and Marriage, State Domestic Relations Power, and Family Strength, and Child Policy & National Strength: Restoring Ukraine in the Best Interests of the Child,  both outlining why family law is important to state and national policy. 
So, can placing children at the center of immigration reform be good for America?  Absolutely.  Because when parents and a nation place the protection of kids first, both will do what is in the best interests of those children because both parents and the government are required to do so by law.  As a pro-life, pro-child, and pro- family scholar and advocate I have been writing about this for a long time.  See Are We There Yet? Immigration Reform for the Best Interests of Children, Berkeley La Raza L. J. (2013)(reprinted Regent J. Int’l L. (2013)), focusing on protecting native born children when their undocumented parents are facing deportation.
Think through this important problem carefully.  Rather than unwittingly parrot what you might hear in the media which may or may not necessarily be based on fact, take a moment to educate yourself.  Rather than rush to judgment either way, take the time to be responsible and get caught up with what is happening regarding children parents, nations, and immigration at pp. 78-80
Children may just be the solution to America’s immigration concerns.  Placing them first is the best thing for immigrant parents, the nation, and for family restoration.

6.04.2018

Religious Freedom in the Context of Wedding Cakes


Today the Supreme Court of the United States ruled on the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission which focused on whether the state of Colorado can force baker Jack Phillips to express his support of a same-sex wedding through his bakery. Jack is a Christian, and while he sold countless cakes to LGBT people, he felt he could not take part in a religious ceremony that violated his Christian beliefs.
The case, argued by Kristen Waggoner (Regent Law 1997), Senior Vice President of U.S. Legal Advocacy & General Counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, is about marriage, religious freedom and most of all free expression.  Writing about this previously in How Will the Proliferation and Recognition of Domestic Partnerships Affect Marriage?, it has been clear for quite some time that expanding marriage would have religious freedom implications, as well as  Collateral Effects on Family Law.
The Supreme Court of the United States held in favor of Jack Phillips in that the Colorado Civil Right Commission's hostility to the baker's religious beliefs was inconsistent with the First Amendment.  Read the full opinion at Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colo. Civil Rights Comm., U.S., No. 16-111, 6/4/18.  Today Regent Law Dean Mike Hernandez appeared on CBN Newswatch discussing the Masterpiece Cakeshop victory at the Supreme Court, where the lead attorneys were Regent Law alumni.   





5.24.2018

Ireland Can Vote for Equality Over Death of Children

Ireland currently protects equally the rights of women and children under their Constitution's Eighth Amendment.  On May 25 citizens of Ireland will vote on that law's repeal.

A New York pregnancy resource center presages, "Ireland, please do not #repealthe8th. The US made abortion legal; now 55 million+ people are dead. It's a scientific fact: at the moment of conception, a unique human is made and lives. Abortion ends that life.” https://t.co/fyMi7Q7pQg"

Equality is the right choice. Both women and children will lose if this amendment is repealed, as the forfeit of women’s rights begins when reproductive choice prevails over life.