Dystopia begins here: parents would need a licence to raise children to screen out homophobes, transphobes and racists

A handful of philosophers through the years have trotted out the idea that parents should be required to get a license to raise their own children. After all, doctors and plumbers get licenses. Why not license the most important job of all: Parents. But Connor Kianpour, a doctoral candidate at the University of Colorado Boulder, has just taken the idea a bold step further.

In his article, in the latest issue of Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy, “The Kid’s Aren’t Alright: Expanding the Role of the State in Parenting,” Kianpour cuts to the chase. He writes: “Individuals have no right to rear their biological children, nor do they have any interests weighty enough to justify a right to rear children generally. Since these rights do not exist, regulated parenting policies cannot be said to jeopardize them.”

He explains that since there is “no fundamental right” for parents to raise their children, then “no special justification needs to be offered to permissibly enforce a parental licensing scheme.”

Kianpour reaches this eyebrow-raising conclusion based on a line of logic that an acrobat would have difficulty manoeuvring. But having reached this conclusion, he is unabashed in his near-total disdain and disregard for parental rights (though he does grudgingly concede that parents could be offered visitation rights to their children after they are given to more suitable people).

Kianpour claims that children’s rights are inherent but parental rights do not exist. While most of modern humanity agrees that children do indeed have rights, most people believe (based on reams of social science data, common sense, and the experience of billions of people) that the best way to maintain children’s basic rights is to maintain their parents’ stewardship over them. This does not protect every child in every situation, but evidence shows that children do best when raised by their own parents. Our laws not only recognize parents’ rights but require parents to care for their own children.

But Kianpour insists some parents must be excluded from their child’s life (possibly from birth!) even if they love the child, can afford to support the child, and have exhibited no violent tendencies whatsoever. What is it, then, that would disqualify parents from claiming and raising their own children?

Unfit to raise children

Kianpour explains, “Certain individuals are unfit to rear children because they are objectionably intolerant of certain backgrounds and ways of life.” He then gets more specific: “Strongly homophobic individuals are unfit to rear children.” He says, “Parental licensing offers the best solution to the problems that befall children who are victims of a distinctive, insidious form of bad child-rearing—childrearing by those who are strongly homophobic, racist, sexist, and the like.” According to Kianpour, any person who is “objectionably intolerant” to certain lifestyles and characteristics should be barred from raising children.

“Strong homophobia”, according to Kianpour and his colleagues, “consists in belief in the moral wickedness or depravity of gay sexuality and identity” which “gives rise to attitudes of contempt, disgust, disrespect toward gay people.” He says the reason “strong homophobes…are unfit to rear children is that they would be unlikely to provide affective care to gay children, and there is a nontrivial chance that a homophobe’s child could be gay.”

Who decides?

So, who would get to decide which parents qualify as “objectionably intolerant” and should be denied a parenting license? Kianpour says “public officials” should “determine standards for parental competency, evaluate whether particular individuals meet these standards, and prevent those who do not meet these standards from rearing children.”

And how would a public official correctly diagnose parents as homophobes?

Kianpour suggests they use an instrument called the “Index of Homophobia.” This psychological assessment invites test subjects to answer statements like, “I would feel uncomfortable if my neighbour was homosexual.” Subjects are given a score between 0 and 100 and those who receive a score of 75 or above are classified as “high grade homophobics.”

He also suggests background checks be conducted “to determine whether prospective parents have been…convicted of a hate crime or successfully sued for employment discrimination.” He adds, “Background checks might also be used to determine if prospective parents are affiliated with organizations that would give us reason to believe they are objectionably intolerant.”

One begins to wonder if people of religious faith might be singled out disproportionately as unfit parents due to their affiliation with certain organizations.

But wonder no longer because Kianpour then drops this bomb: “An example of a proverbial ‘red flag’ in this regard would be prospective parents who are active members of the Westboro Baptist Church.”

Wow, that’s specific. Anyone who is a member of the Westboro Baptist Church should be flagged as a potentially unfit parent? I wonder if my church or your church is on the list.



Get the Free Mercator Newsletter

Get the news you may not get anywhere else, delivered right to your inbox.
Your info is safe with us, we will never share or sell you personal data.

The implications

Before we dismiss Kianpour’s arguments as armchair lunacy, he does make a crucial point. He says, “My arguments have significant implications for how philosophical debates concerning child welfare policy should be conducted.” This is true. If taken seriously, Kianpour’s ideas could seismically disrupt the functioning of families and therefore, the functioning of the world. And the thing is, we are not light years away from something like this being enacted. In fact, a potent version of this scheme is already being propelled forward by transgender activism.

You may remember California’s recent Assembly Bill 957 which invited judges to “weigh parental affirmation of a child’s gender identity or expression along with the young person’s health, safety and welfare when determining visitation and custody arrangements.” Governor Newsom ultimately vetoed the bill, but the California legislature passed the bill by a wide margin. Newsom said one reason he vetoed the bill is that “judges are already required to consider parents’ views on a child’s gender identity as part of any judicial evaluation of their health, safety and welfare.” So, the political will to limit or revoke parents’ access to their children on grounds that parents do not embrace certain ideologies is strong and getting stronger.

California is not alone in pushing the narrative that parental custody should hinge on acceptance of transgender ideology. Legislation across the nation reflects a willingness and almost a hunger to remove children from the care of their parents in the name of children’s rights. This should scare the heck of any thinking person.

Innocent until proven guilty?

One final point. Kianpour says that one of the best things about licensing parents is that it would “protect children from abuse and neglect before it takes place,” whereas in old fashioned parenting a parent must commit a crime against a child before the parent’s custody is brought into question. While it is tragic that any child would suffer abuse, this way of thinking—engaging a willingness to restrict and revoke freedoms based on what a person might do in the future—channels a disturbing vibe that strikes at the very heart of free society.

Remember the 2002 Tom Cruise thriller, Minority Report? The movie depicted a future in which crimes could be predicted before they were committed, which allowed people to be arrested for crimes they hadn’t committed yet. Kianpour’s parental licensing scheme is eerily similar; parents would be denied custody of their children from birth on the grounds that they might commit an offense against their child someday. This is a road we do not want to go down.

Children and parents inherently belong to each other—not as a matter of ownership, but as a matter of anatomy, reality, and love. The love of parents for their children is the very thing that holds the world together. We would be wise to think long and hard before we smash it to smithereens.

Watch Connor Kianpour defend his ideas here.  

Kimberly Ells is the author of The Invincible Family. Follow her at Invincible Family Substack.

Image credit: Pexels 


Showing 31 reactions

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.