The state’s Child and Family Services (CFS) reportedly took custody of the teen from her father Todd Kolstad and stepmother Krista this month, leading the parents to speak out about how the action has “destroyed” their family and “trampled” their rights.
The allegations, first reported over the weekend, led Gov. Greg Gianforte’s office to take a look at the case and the governor’s office took sides with CFS workers.
The parents told Reduxx their issues with the state agency started when officials received a call in August 2023 that Jennifer, whose name was changed for publication at their request, expressed suicidal thoughts at school.
A CFS caseworker came to speak with the teen and inspect the house where Jennifer claimed she drank toilet bowl cleaner and took painkillers in an attempt to take her own life, the outlet reported.
The teen reportedly showed no related symptoms, and a test at the hospital showed she didn’t consume any toxins.
But her hospital stay stretched to multiple days, in which staff there noted that Jennifer identified as male and wanted to be called Leo. The parents said they quickly objected to any gender transition.
“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 Kolstad recalled to Reduxx, accusing the hospital of consistently undermining her and her husband’s authority.
Jennifer was eventually moved to a specialized residential care facility in Wyoming over her parents’ concerns. Kolstad told Reduxx she and Todd were worried about Jennifer being cared for in the state, where minors can receive gender-affirming care without parental consent.
“They showed up at our home to serve us with papers to take Jennifer out of our care,” Kolstad alleged. “They told me the reason was that we were ‘unable or refusing to provide medical care.’ That’s just not true.”
Jennifer later returned to a Montana youth facility in September, where she remains. Earlier this month, a court put the teen in the custody of CFS, Reduxx reported.
“We were told that letting Jennifer transition and live as a boy was in her ‘therapeutic best interest’ and because we aren’t willing to follow that recommendation, the court gave CFS custody of Jennifer for six months,” Kolstad told the outlet.
“Our family has been destroyed by this. We have little to no contact with Jennifer, and our rights as her parents have been trampled on.”
The Kolstads said the child is going to be placed with her biological mother in Canada, which worries them because they don’t believe she is fit to care for Jennifer, who she has not had much of a relationship with, according to Reduxx.
However, Montana Gov. Gianforte said in a series of social media posts that state policy and laws have been followed after a review of the case.
“Upon hearing recent allegations related to a child welfare case, I asked Lieutenant Governor Kristen Juras – an experienced attorney, constitutional conservative, mother, and grandmother – to review it,” he wrote.
“Consulting with the director of DPHHS and personally examining case documents, Lieutenant Governor Juras has concluded that DPHHS and the court have followed state policy and law in their handling of this tragic case.”
Gianforte said Juras would continue to monitor the case.
In a statement to The Post, Gianforte’s office said the state does not remove minors from homes to provide gender transition services or use public funds to pay for those services while a minor is in the state’s custody.
“As outlined in its statement of purpose, Child Protective Services protects children who have been or are at substantial risk of abuse, neglect or abandonment,” a spokesperson said.
“Furthermore, the Governor has asked his Department of Public Health and Human Services to codify a formal policy and/or develop a regulation to clarify and ensure the definition of abuse or neglect does not include a parent’s right to refuse to provide gender transition services to his or her minor child.”