Virginia parents that lost custody of their daughter (who was consequently trafficked) for refusing to use her then preferred pronouns are fighting back—with help from The Gavel Project.
Written by Ryan Heath & Shared with Permission from The Gavel Project Newsletter
Until recently, our society accepted an old children’s rhyme as an axiom: “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” This stands for the proposition that physical dangers may have permanent consequences, whereas words harm only those that elect victimization. I used to accept this proposition as absolute, that is, until I started The Gavel Project.
Today, a growing number of gender ideologues (many of whom are government employees) are weaponizing words to irreparably harm children. Take, for example, The Gavel Project’s newest beneficiaries, M and her daughter, S, who was taken away from her parents in early September of last year by a Maryland court because M and her husband failed to use S’s then “preferred pronouns” (he/him).
M adopted S, her biological granddaughter, when she was still a toddler (after M’s son tragically passed away).
Until the start of last year, S was a straight A student, who enjoyed playing the piano, skateboarding, and writing poetry. She was a fourteen-year-old virgin, with no criminal or drug history. As is true for so many young folks, transitioning to high school was socially difficult for S, who struggled fitting in. Accordingly, S was influenced by social pressure from her teachers, school counselors, and peers to affirm the delusion that she was, in fact, a boy.
Around the time S entered high school, her appearance changed. Like many parents, M thought that her daughter’s new look amounted to “individualizing.” That is, M believed her daughter was going through a phase (like the droves of individuals from my generation, I’m a Millennial, that adopted the “emo” or “goth” appearance).
At school, S secretly adopted a new “male” identity along with a new name. As part of her social transition, she began using the bathroom designated for boys. Two of her public-school counselors, Ms. Olsen, and Mr. Via (a contracted counselor otherwise unaffiliated S’s school district) actively encouraged S’s adoption of her male trans-identity. As a matter of policy, the school didn’t tell M or her husband (S’s legal father) about their daughter’s social transition—until it was too late (even then, they only did so because of concerns for S’s safety due to bullying and abuse from her peers).
Throughout August of 2021, S experienced severe bullying related to her adopted male identity. On August 23, she entered a male-designated restroom, where she was met by a group of male students. At first, the boys teased her for being “trans,” questioning her male bravado. Sadly, the conversation quickly turned dark as several of the boys escalated the abuse—threatening to rape her. This was the second time she was threatened in such a way in less than a month (another boy apparently threatened to shove various tools up her rectum a few days prior for her merely identifying as trans).
Two days later, S ran away with a person she met online, who was posing as a young man. It’s unclear whether the school counselors had a hand in her running away (given that the district has been obnoxiously opaque in its disclosures thus far). Not knowing that he was a convicted sex offender, S went with the man, who was allegedly going to take her skateboarding. He stole her virginity in the backseat of his car—raping her on his way to the DC area. Once in DC, this monster locked this child in a room—where he raped her again before trafficking her to a gang of other men.
The FBI found S on September 2 in Maryland. M and her husband were amazingly relieved when they were told that they could pick up their daughter the following day from Waxter Children’s Center, a detention center for girls.
Instead of treating her as a rape victim, the state of Maryland criminalized S, treating her as a delinquent for running away. Accordingly, she was assigned a public defender—Aneesa Khan.
When the parents arrived on Friday (September 3) to retrieve their daughter, they were forbidden from seeing her. Consequently, this child was forced to endure the trauma of undergoing rape examinations—without her parents by her side. It’s still unclear whether S was even notified of her parents’ arrival. Sitting outside in the parking lot, Mr., and Mrs. B (who had arrived early that morning) were told that they could not see their daughter and, instead, were required to appear in court at 4:00 p.m.
During this late Friday hearing, Aneesa Khan asserted that S’s parents were guilty of child abuse—because (1) they had their daughter do basic chores around their home (e.g., “cooking”), and (2) they called their daughter by her legal name and used pronouns consistent with her biological sex—instead of her new preferred male name, “D,” and concomitant pronouns.
During the hearing, Khan asserted that S didn’t consent to returning to Virginia with her parents. Khan argued, instead, that M and her seventy–two–year old husband were both emotionally and physically abusive in connection with S’s expressed male gender identity and desire to live as a trans male. The court also noted S’s scars from cutting and a prior suicide attempt. M and her husband vehemently denied the allegations of abuse and begged the court to return their daughter.
Rather than acting rationally and returning this child—a victim of unspeakable evils—to her loving parents, Judge Robert Kershaw set another hearing for Tuesday (September 7) and ordered that S be emergently committed to the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services for placement in a facility “with reasonable accommodations for his transgender male identification.” (See Order of Judge Robert B. Kershaw of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, dated November 11, 2021). The parents weren’t even allowed to hug their daughter before being sent back across the border to Virginia—with an empty backseat and broken hearts.
Because it was Labor Day weekend, the parents couldn’t find an attorney for the Tuesday hearing. When they arrived on Tuesday, Judge Kershaw again ignored the parents’ desperate pleas to return their daughter to their rightful custody. Instead, Judge Kershaw continued the matter—claiming that he hadn’t yet received the proper paperwork from Virginia authorities to release the girl from his (illegitimate) control.
The fraudulent allegations of abuse prompted the court to contact the Department of Social Services from both Maryland and Virginia to investigate the parents—who were denied any contact with their daughter per the prompting of Attorney Khan—who told S that she was using her case to “set a precedent” (i.e., she was using this case to create case-law so that, in the future, parents refusing to affirm their child’s gender identity would, legally speaking, amount to child-abuse sufficient to eviscerate parental rights).
At the next hearing, on September 10, 2021, Judge Kershaw (sitting pompously upon his high horse) rejected paperwork submitted by the parents (from the proper Virginia Authorities) by claiming that the paperwork submitted contained (trivial) imperfections. Instead of returning the girl to the safety of her home—Judge Kershaw ordered that S be placed (with a GPS monitor on her ankle) in an unsecure facility in Catonsville Maryland called The Children’s Home. To accommodate and “affirm” her gender identity, S was inexplicably placed in a male housing unit. Given that S is around 100 pounds soaking wet, it’s not hard to imagine what happened to her in the male housing facility.
Twice more in September, the parents appeared before Judge Kershaw and begged for the return of their daughter, only for him to continue the case on each occasion.
At a hearing on October 13, 2022, Counsel for the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services entered into evidence four exhibits “establish[ing] [M]’s entitlement to custody of [her daughter].” During this hearing, DJS’s Attorney asserted that M was “entitled to custody of [S] and that the Court should grant the requisition and order [her] return to Virginia.”
In response, Aneesa Khan vigorously objected. Khan argued that the return to S’s home state wasn’t appropriate because the proposed placement by Virginia officials (a facility called “Youth for Tomorrow”) had a policy that “would require staff to use [D’s] birth name [(“S”)] and she/her pronouns to reflect his sex assigned at birth, despite [D’s] identity as a boy, his wish to be called [“D,”] his preference for male pronouns, and his identification of being misgendered as emotionally triggering.” Id. To support her objection, Ms. Khan called upon S’s school counselors to testify against her parents. On the stand, both Avery Via and Dena Olsen claimed that S’s parents were abusive for not affirming the delusion that their daughter was a boy.
Despite having no procedural imperfections to cite and expressly recognizing that S wasn’t a “delinquent runaway” (the very basis for Attorney Khan’s ongoing involvement in the matter as a criminal defense attorney)—Ms. Khan convinced Judge Kershaw (whose motives are highly questionable) to continue the requisition hearing until October 28, 2021.
On that date, Judge Kershaw again accepted a few items of additional evidence only to continue the requisition hearing to November 16, 2021, so that he could receive an update on placement options in Virginia and hear closing arguments.
Because a spot opened at a “gender affirming” facility in Virginia (available on November 12), the hearing was advanced to November 10, 2021. On November 8, Judge Kershaw received a letter addressed to S’s parents from the Appomattox County Department of Social Services, dated November 3, 2021. In relevant part, this letter states that the ACDSS family assessment is closed—with no findings of abuse or neglect.
This should have been unsurprising for Judge Kershaw, given that M has volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) in Virginia since 2015. To qualify for this program, wherein volunteers assist children going through Virginia’s foster care system, M had to pass an intensive background check and undergo weeks of training. This, conveniently, was ignored by the Maryland court.
Much of the information referenced herein comes from an Order issued by Judge Kershaw, dated November 10, 2021. This Order concerns his final determination for S’s “requisition hearing,” which is governed by the Interstate Compact on Juveniles (“ICJ”). For the return of a “non-delinquent” juvenile, such as S, “[u]nder ICJ Rule 6–103, the purpose of a requisition hearing is for the holding state to determine proof of entitlement for return of the juvenile to the demanding state.” Id.
Instead of making a straightforward determination on the issue of entitlement (as he was required to do by law) Judge Kershaw elected to decide whether, as a prerequisite to granting the requisition to Virginia, he had the authority to engage in an analysis of the juvenile’s “best interest.” Id.
Judge Kershaw’s inquiry, unsurprisingly, was prompted by an argument made by Aneesa Khan during the October 13 requisition hearing. Citing a 1982 case from a West Virginia appellate court (which is non-binding precedent for Maryland state courts), Ms. Kahn argued that, in determining whether to grant a requisition of a non-delinquent juvenile, “the holding state in an ICJ proceeding should engage in a best interest analysis.” Id. Because (as Ms. Khan argued) M and her husband were abusing their daughter by assigning her basic household chores and failing to use her (then) preferred pronouns, granting requisition to Virginia was not in S’s best interest.
Ultimately, Judge Kershaw’s Order concedes the issue, noting “[i]n keeping with more recent appellate opinions from other jurisdictions, the position of Maryland’s ICJ and BCDJS, and in the absence of any binding Maryland caselaw, this Court determines that it does not have authority to engage in a best interest analysis as the holding state in a contested ICJ requisition hearing.” (Emphasis added).
Consequently, given that the Maryland DJS’s exhibits (which were accepted by Judge Kershaw nearly a month prior on October 13) “establish[ed] [M]’s entitlement to custody of [her daughter,]” Judge Kershaw reluctantly granted the requisition to Virginia.
This should have been the end of Judge Kershaw’s Opinion; it wasn’t. Despite conceding that he lacked any authority to exercise jurisdiction over S after receiving evidence of entitlement, Judge Kershaw had the gall to address, “in dicta,” aspects of Ms. Khan’s request for a “best interest analysis.”
In short, Judge Kershaw found it “more likely than not” that S “endured emotional abuse and neglect by [her] parents in their care and that of others by either acting or failing to act with the knowledge of the resulting emotional injury to [S].” In support of this conclusion, Judge Kershaw cites Mr. Via’s testimony, which he highlights as “credible.” During his testimony, Mr. Via claimed that S’s demeanor “changed radically from withdrawn and depressed while in the care of the [parents] in Virginia to positive, upbeat and well-engaged since being emergently committed to BCDJS in Maryland.” Id.Furthermore, Judge Kershaw claimed that evidence of “the emotional abuse, neglect, and injury was further confirmed by this Court’s observation on October 13, 2021 of [D’s] avoidance of direct contact with his parents in the courtroom; [D’s] departure from the courtroom to be with counsel in the hallway during a conference; the [parent]s’ persistent challenge with using Court-directed and legally required masculine pronouns when referring to [D] even with their knowledge of the triggering effect that misgendering [D] has on his well-being and self-esteem; and [M’s] attempt to discontinue [D’s] therapeutic relationship with Mr. Via following his testimony on October 13, 2021.” (Emphasis added).
On November 12, 2021, upon learning that Aneesa Khan had filed an emergency stay appealing Judge Kershaw’s requisition order, S removed her GPS ankle bracelet and ran away from the male facility in Maryland where she had been repeatedly abused. S then boarded a train to Texas—where, again, she was sex trafficked. She was fifteen at the time.
Finally, before concluding his Opinion, Judge Kershaw found it necessary to issue a gag order—prohibiting any parties from disclosing, in any form, “any information concerning, related to or learned in connection with this [proceeding] with any third party, including but not limited to family, friends, the press, and law enforcement to the extent allowed by law. ”
This attempt to gag the parties from going to the press is amazing, given that Judge Kershaw lost jurisdiction over the parties after October 13—per his own ruling.
The Gavel Project is fundraising to retain counsel for this family to pursue justice against Ms. Khan, Mr. Via, Ms. Olsen, The Children’s Home, S’s school, and school district, and (potentially, depending on laws governing immunity) Judge Kershaw (along with any other parties later determined to be at fault). After a month of searching, we believed that we’ve found the right lead-attorney for this case.
At issue is whether the government can compel a parent to use the “preferred pronouns” of confused children by punishing noncompliance in the form of terminating parental rights. This case needs to be litigated. Failure to do so will only embolden the gender ideologues waging war on our children.
Initially, The Gavel Project needs to raise $5,000 for a retainer (and we’re on a tight deadline). Ultimately, the cost of this case will likely exceed six figures (which we need to raise). We need your support in raising funds and spreading the word. Please consider sharing this post and making a tax-deductible donation now by visiting our website: thegavelproject.com. To specifically designate funds for this case, please select the gift allocation option for: “Anti-Grooming Litigation.”
Any funds specified for this case that are not ultimately utilized will, upon completion of the case, be used to fund similar civil rights matters in furtherance of The Gavel Project’s Anti-Woke, charitable objectives.
Thank you to all that support our mission to peacefully eradicate gender ideology.
The Gavel Project is an Anti-Woke nonprofit (501(c)(3)) public charity that funds lawsuits regarding civil rights violations, COVID-19 mandate injuries, CRT, gender affirmation therapy abuses, and much more. In short, we’re defending the American Dream. As a public charity, we’re 100% crowdsource funded. We take no financial stake in the outcome of any case. Meaning, we cover the entire cost of litigation for our charitable beneficiaries. Founders, Ryan and Jordan Heath, have made significant personal sacrifices to fund The Gavel Project—without any seed money. We’ve been blessed thus far with an outpouring of support (thank you to all that give). Hiring attorneys, however, is expensive, and financial support for ongoing success is imperative. Please consider making a tax deductible donation and sharing this post with your network.