Parent 1 and Parent 2 Have Replaced Mother and Father On Many Massachusetts Government Documents

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Do children have a biological mother and father? 

No, according to many government documents in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Instead of using the terms “mother” and “father,” the Commonwealth opts for a gender-neutral option:  Parent 1 and Parent 2.

These are terms that the Commonwealth uses on its form registering at-home births. Those are births that take place outside of a hospital. It’s a form developed by the Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records that the agency started using in October 2021.

First, the form asks for the information for “Parent 1.” Parent 1 is the mother of the child, although the state doesn’t use the term. The form uses the term “delivering parent” to describe Parent 1 — as in the parent who gave birth to the baby.

Females are the sex that gives birth in the human species. 

“This section is used to complete the Parent 1 fields on the child’s birth certificate,” the form says. “The parent that appears in this section must be the delivering parent unless otherwise directed by court order.”

So what about the person who impregnated the woman? 

Some might call that person the father. Biologically speaking, this person is a male; the form doesn’t refer to that term or that function, however.

“This section is used to complete the Parent 2 fields on the child’s birth certificate,” the form reads. “It is usually best if parent 2 completes this section of the form. Please indicate relationship of parent 2 to parent 1.”

Births aren’t the government-recorded event for which official forms in the Commonwealth use “Parent 1” and “Parent 2.”

The state’s criminal justice system uses these terms:  the state’s Juvenile Court Confidential Information Sheet, updated by the Massachusetts Court System in August 2017, asks for the information of “Parent 1” and “Parent 2.” It’s a form that’s filled out so that the criminal justice system has the contact information for the parents of a juvenile inmate.

If someone files a petition to resign as guardian of a minor to the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court, that person will also see these terms.

The form asks for “Name of Parent 1” and “Name of Parent 2” if the guardian checks the box that says “The parent(s) can now resume parental responsibilities.” The other option on the form is to have the court “appoint some other suitable person to serve as guardian with custody of the minor.”

And if a Commonwealth family wants to apply for state-subsidized child care, the family must explain how much money — including government benefits — the family receives.  The form asks for the income of the two parents. It says “Parent #1 Amount” and another column says “Parent 2 Amount.” This form from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has existed since March 2019.

The use of “Parent 1” and “Parent 2” has been the subject of controversy in Europe in recent years. In France, public schools have been using the terms instead of mother and father since 2019, something conservatives in the country oppose.  And in Italy, the country replaced mother and father with these gender-neutral terms on its national ID cards for children under 14 years old. 

The Massachusetts Department of Vital Records, Court System, Probate and Family Court, and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education could not be reached for comment on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday this week.


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