It sometimes seems like we’ve reached a turning point in the cultural battle against gender ideology. For example, public opinion is strongly against “inclusive” policies allowing men to compete in women’s sports, which has forced a number of major sports organizations, such as FINA and World Athletics, to reconsider their nonbiological standards. Stories such as one released last week about a male inmate who impregnated two female inmates after being placed in a women’s prison further hit the point home:

Gender ideology is asinine, and everyone knows it.

But outside of the public debate, the reality is much more harrowing. Gender ideology is still being taught as fact in almost every single one of our institutions, from the public education system to healthcare to the White House. The result is a system that is stacked against those of us with a grip on reality.

No one knows this better than the parents of children caught up in gender ideology. Many of these parents don’t even realize right away that their children are “identifying” as a gender different than their biological sex. Public school officials have made sure of that. But when parents do find out about their child’s new “gender identity,” they also discover there’s an entire apparatus in place to make sure they can do nothing about it.

This is exactly what happened to Daniel, whose name I’m changing for the sake of his and his family’s privacy.

Daniel’s 16-year-old daughter began identifying as a boy at school, but Daniel isn’t quite sure when the girl took on this new identity. She never informed him or his wife about it, nor did the school.

So it was a shock to Daniel when he received a phone call from his daughter’s California school asking him and his wife to come in for a meeting. Apparently, his daughter had been meeting with one of the school’s counselors and had told this counselor that her parents weren’t referring to her by her preferred male name. The counselor then informed other school officials, who in turn referred the case to California Child Protective Services.

At the meeting, school officials and a California CPS agent informed Daniel that they considered his failure to “affirm” his daughter’s new gender identity as abusive. It didn’t matter that he had been unaware there was anything to affirm because he didn’t know his daughter was identifying as a boy or that she wanted to be called a specific new name. He had failed to “affirm her,” and there would be consequences.

The CPS agent announced during the meeting that she would be taking his daughter out of his custody that day to protect her from suffering any more “emotional damage.” He had no say over the matter, she told him, and would have to file an appeal if he wanted his daughter back.

Daniel immediately called his lawyers to figure out how to fight this. He had the resources and the determination because he knew that what was happening to him and his family violated their rights. But his legal team had a hard truth for him: With CPS involved, he had no rights. And if he wanted to get his daughter back as quickly as possible, he had only one recourse: Sit down, shut up, and tell them exactly what they wanted to hear.

It took Daniel and his wife about a month to regain custody of their daughter. He followed his lawyers’ advice and did and said exactly what his daughter’s CPS-chosen counselor wanted him to do and say. He and his wife had to meet with this counselor multiple times to get custody, and even then, CPS would not release their daughter back to them until they signed a form stating they would use their daughter’s preferred male name moving forward and provide her with a “judgment-free environment.” Otherwise, CPS was going to keep her.

But even after they regained custody, it was clear that irreparable damage had been done not just to their relationship with their daughter but to their daughter’s well-being too.

During the month that she was with CPS, Daniel’s daughter was living in a state-run group home where gender ideology was pummeled into her head and her new identity affirmed without question. As a result, she started taking testosterone as soon as she turned 18 years old and has resisted any attempt to bring common sense back into her life.

“I wish she had been a little more open with us and talked to us about these things because I think they get inundated and pressured from all directions to take the next step,” Daniel said. “It would have been a whole lot better if we could have gotten her help. We just wanted to help.”

Daniel’s story is a frightening indication of what’s to come as the highest levels of government work to embed gender ideology in our legal structure and cut parents out of the picture. Make no mistake: The battle for our children is just beginning.