Skip to main content

MT Couple Files Civil Rights Lawsuit After State Took Daughter Away Over Gender Transition

Share This article

A Montana couple has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the state's Child Protective Services alleging that the agency violated their 14th Amendment rights when they removed their daughter from their care because they refused to affirm her newfound male "gender identity."

The Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Montana, Billings Division on behalf of Todd and Krista Kolstad after they lost custody of their daughter, called H.K. in court documents, to the state without a warrant or a hearing.

As CBN News reported, the Kolstads said their nightmare began back in August 2023 when they learned their 14-year-old daughter told a friend at school she had suicidal thoughts.

A CFS caseworker reportedly showed up at the Kolstads' home later that same day to interview the teen and to do an inspection. The couple explained to media personality Megyn Kelly that their daughter Jennifer told the caseworker she drank toilet bowl cleaner and took painkillers in an attempt to end her life.

The Kolstads didn't believe their daughter but took her to the emergency room. The girl reportedly did not show any symptoms of poisoning, and a test conducted at the hospital also came back negative. 

Medical notes written by the staff also revealed Jennifer asked to be identified as a male and wanted to be called "Leo." The Kolstads said they told the staff they objected to this and asked them to call the girl by her birth name. 

"We were very clear to the emergency room staff as well as {CFS} that this goes against our values, morals, and our religious beliefs," Krista said, but the hospital staff refused to listen. "They told me to call their lawyer if I have an issue as they will do what the patient tells them," Krista told Reddux, a Canadian outlet. 

The teenager had expressed gender identity confusion before, telling people at church her name was "Leo." Responding to this behavior, the couple said they put their daughter in counseling. 

The Kolstads believe "transgenderism is more on the make-believe scale than on something that is appropriate for a child."

Krista told The Daily Mail her stepdaughter had a tough upbringing and has several undiagnosed health concerns, including attention-seeking behavior and lying. The couple believe these mental problems contributed to her urge to transition and these facts were overlooked by CFS. 

After Jennifer spent several days in the hospital, her medical team decided the girl should go to a mental health facility for additional treatment. 

The Kolstads said they wanted their daughter to be placed in a facility in Billings. But instead, the medical team spoke about having Jennifer's treatment conducted out of state in a Wyoming facility.  


slider img 2

The couple said they became concerned when they found out the state doesn't have the same ban on gender assignment procedures for minors that Montana and the surrounding states do. Current Wyoming law requires parental consent before a child receives transgender-related surgeries, but the law is more ambiguous on minors who have been emancipated from their parents, according to

"We were concerned that she could go to Wyoming and have puberty blockers or anything else that she wanted to do this transition, and we were not okay with that at all," Krista told Kelly. 

After being told their daughter would be placed in the Billings clinic as soon as an opening became available, they later received a telephone call informing them Jennifer was being taken to a facility in Wyoming instead. 

"Within 10 minutes of that call, the children's services worker and the police show up at our door serving us with papers to remove her from our care, saying that we were unable or unwilling to provide her medical care," Krista recalled. "And that's just not true at all."

The couple said they were left feeling "shocked," "helpless," and "crushed." They found out their daughter was living at the Wyoming clinic as a boy named Leo, according to

In February, U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Laird awarded H.K's biological mother, who lives in Canada, custody citing that the Kolstads were more focused on the "youth's struggle with gender identification rather than addressing the issues in the family home and ensuring a safe and supportive environment for the youth's suicidal ideation."

Laird added that while placing the child with the mother may cause a custody dispute she was more concerned with the child's emotional well-being. 

Meanwhile, the couple had said they could not stay silent on the case, despite being under a gag order.

"We're doing this because we feel like we have no choice," Krista Kolstad told Kelly. "Because our rights have been so trampled on, now we're at a point where our family unit has been destroyed and the best thing we can do is stand up for other families and get the word out and not allow this to happen to anyone else again."

With the help of PJI, the couple has now filed a lawsuit against the caseworker and caseworker supervisor alleging they violated their 14th Amendment right to care and custody of their daughter by seizing the girl without a warrant.

"Not blindly 'affirming' a child's gender dysphoria is not child abuse," said Brad Dacus, PJI President. "For the state to give no consideration to the facts at hand is an abuse of the child welfare system."

***Please sign up for CBN Newsletters and download the CBN News app to ensure you keep receiving the latest news.***

Share This article

About The Author


Talia Wise has served as a multi-media producer for, CBN Newswatch, The Prayer Link, and CBN News social media outlets. Prior to joining CBN News she worked for Fox Sports Florida producing and reporting. Talia earned a master’s degree in journalism from Regent University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia.