Glee23, featuring LGBT24 youth; Tumblr accounts and YouTube videos following transitioning
individuals on the internet; and books aimed towards youth, such as Parrotfish by Ellen
Wittlinger25, are readily accessible.26 LGBT groups and school diversity clubs are more widely
available to provide LGBT youth with guidance, support, and accurate information.27
With this trend of growing acceptance, there has been a striking change in medical
practices, which now offer transgender people the possibility of switching gender at younger
ages.28 The treatment of transgender children, where both medical and psychiatric opinions are in
a state of incredible flux, has become a civil rights issue in the same way as homosexuals
undergoing psychiatric treatment in the 1970s.29
C. Treatment of this Issue Compared to Other Issues Relating to Minors
Many legal systems have seen a noticeably growing trend of examining children’s issues
in terms of their own rights, despite resentment and resistance in some circles.30 One of the biggest
issues facing children’s rights is the absence of clear legal definitions and boundaries. This
conceptual instability creates a complicated and often-contradictory landscape of case law related
to children’s rights. This makes it difficult to understand what rights have been established and
which ones are still in flux. One of the best examples of contradictory decisions regarding
children’s rights can be found concerning the issue of reproductive health.
There have been positive steps forward for youth related to their reproductive health. The
U.S. Supreme Court held that blanket laws requiring pregnant minors seeking an abortion to obtain
parental consent are unconstitutional.31 This is because requiring a minor to obtain the consent of
her parents or judicial approval following notification to her parents inflicts an undue burden on a
pregnant minor seeking an abortion.32 However, the Court’s decisions are both progressive and
regressive. For example, states have the right to require parental notification in certain
circumstances but states cannot restrict access to abortions necessary to preserve the health or life
of the mother.33 Further, state laws do not typically prohibit physicians from writing prescriptive
23 Rubin Erdely, supra note 1.
24 LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender. UNIV. OF MICH., LGBT Terms and Definitions,
https://internationalspectrum.umich.edu/life/definitions (last visited Apr. 22, 2016).
25 ELLEN WHITTLINGER, PARROTFISH, (2015) (The story of a transgender teenager, searching for identity and
26 Talbot, supra note 20.
27 CAITLYN RYAN, HELPING FAMILIES SUPPORT THEIR LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER (LGBT)
CHILDREN 1 (2009), http://nccc.georgetown.edu/documents/LGBT_Brief.pdf.
28 Talbot, supra note 20.
29 Alex Spiegel, Two Families Grapple with Sons’ Gender Identity, NPR (May 7, 2008),
30 Tobin, supra note 14, at 583.
31 Bellotti v. Baird, 443 U.S. 622, 643 (1979). Unmarried, minor women were required under Massachusetts law to
gain consent from both her parents prior to having an abortion. If the minor is unable to gain this consent, a superior
judge may issue a consent order. Id. The Court held that there needs to be a balance between a parent’s ability to make
decisions for their minor and the minor’s right to have an abortion. Id. So, as long as the State provides an alternate
procedure, the minor’s right to an abortion may be conditional upon parental consent. Id.
33 Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, 546 U.S. 320, 326–27 (2006). A court chose to invalidate
an entire statute because there would be unconstitutional results in a small percentage of cases. The statute was deemed
unconstitutionally narrow as it allowed an exemption for parent notification when the abortion is necessary to prevent
the death of the mother, but did not exempt abortions necessary to protect the mother’s health. Id. at 325. In a