MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — A federal judge has dismissed a mother’s lawsuit seeking recourse after her parental rights over her son were expropriated and she had been kept in the dark about the provision of hormonal treatments to assist with the teen’s desire to “transition” into a girl.
While he agreed that the teen was not legally emancipated absent a court order, and that the mother’s “parental rights over [her son therefore] remain intact,” U.S. District Judge Paul Magnusen concluded that relief could not be granted against any of the parties sued as they “cannot be held liable … because they did not act under color of state law.”
As previously reported, Anmarie Calgaro announced during a press conference last November that she was troubled to discover that a legal aid group for low income persons had created a notice of emancipation for her then 15-year-old son.
“Last year, without my knowledge or consent, without any court hearings or legal process, without any involvement on my part whatsoever, a legal aid group that gives free services to low income people created a notice of emancipation for my 15-year-old son,” she explained. “Suddenly, my son, without any notice to me, was no longer under my supervision.”
Calgaro said that the document was comprised of false claims and she had not been contacted to verify any of the teen’s assertions.
She explained that her son had asked to stay with his father (Calgaro and her husband are divorced) so he could attend a better school, and Calgaro agreed. However, the emancipation document claimed that Calgaro failed to report her son “as a runaway” over the next six months and “made no attempt to bring him home.” It also asserted that Calgaro had told her son that she “no longer wishes to have contact with him,” which she denies.
The teen soon also left his father’s home and stayed with various friends and family members. He left those homes as well, and now lives on his own.
Calgaro soon learned in the midst of the situation that her son had also been obtaining female hormone treatments—paid by the government—without her consent.
“It was then brought to my knowledge that my son had begun receiving hormone replacement treatments from Park Nicollet health services to transition from male to female with medical assistance paying for this,” she said. “I was not consulted or informed about this in any way. I had no way to give or receive any information about my son.”
Because of the emancipation document, Calgaro was prohibited from receiving any information about the teen, who was consequently treated as an adult by the Department of Human Services and provided with public services, including assistance with food, housing and medical services.
She attempted to obtain medical and educational records from Park Nicollet and her son’s school, but her requests were denied. She consequently sued, contending that her constitutional parental rights were being unlawfully infringed.
The various defendants moved for summary judgment and dismissal, which Judge Magnusen granted on Monday. While he agreed the emancipation was not valid, he stated that the non-governmental defendants cannot be held liable for their actions because they did not act under state law. The government agencies sued also could only be held responsible if acting under a specific “policy or custom,” which was absent in the case.
Therefore, because the entities did not act in accordance with any law or established practice, Magnusen concluded that Calgaro did not have a legal claim.
“The Eighth Circuit has explicitly left open the question ‘whether and to what extent the fundamental liberty interest in the custody, care, and management of one’s children mandates parental access to school records,'” he also wrote. “The only other circuit to have ruled on this issue has held that a noncustodial parent does not have a protected liberty interest in receiving their children’s school records.”
Calgaro is now considering an appeal.
“People left and right in Minnesota agree that emancipation procedures need to be put into a statute so this confusion over parental rights never happens again,” her attorney, Erick Kaardal with the Thomas More Society, said in a statement. “Anmarie Calgaro is living a parent’s worst nightmare. Her minor child has been piloted by third parties through a life-changing, permanent body altering process by organizations that have no legal authority over him, and that have denied his own mother access.”
“I am firmly committed for what is best for my son—for all of my children,” Calgaro also said in January. “I am his mother. He is and always will be welcome in our home.”