Several California schools have been caught hiding students’ “gender identities” from parents or even encouraging students to “transition” behind their parents’ backs. One school even went so far as to fire a teacher for respecting parental rights and refusing to hide students’ “gender identities” from parents. Thankfully, more teachers are now pushing back against school policies that require them to violate parental rights and act against their own deeply held beliefs.
Last week, two teachers sued their school district and the state education board over policies that force teachers to keep parents in the dark when it comes to students’ intentions to “change” genders and socially “transition” at school.
Escondido Union School District recently implemented several new policies pertaining to the treatment of “transgender” or “gender diverse” students. According to the policies, teachers are required to use students’ “preferred pronouns” or chosen names during the school day. However, when speaking with parents, teachers are instructed to use the students’ biological pronouns and legal names.
Attorneys from the Thomas More Society filed the lawsuit, arguing that the school district and California State Board of Education are violating teachers’ First Amendment rights by compelling them to help students “transition.” Plaintiffs Elizabeth Mirabelli and Lori Ann West are devout Christians who also claim that the district’s policies violate their religious freedom.
The lawsuit claims that at Escondido, once a teacher learns of a child’s desire to “transition” socially, he or she is obligated to ensure that parents do not become aware of this.
The district’s policy prohibits “revealing a student’s transgender status to individuals who do not have a legitimate need for the information, without the student’s consent.” The policy goes on to say that “parents or caretakers…do not have a legitimate need for the information,” according to the lawsuit.
Further, teachers are trained to dodge questions from “a suspicious parent.” They are instructed to tell parents who ask for information about their child’s gender confusion that “the inquiry is outside of the scope of the intent of their interaction” and that they can only speak about “information regarding the student’s behavior as it relates to school, class rules, assignments, etc.”
To make matters worse, Thomas More obtained an internal Q&A portal for Mission Middle School titled “Rights of Gender Diverse Students Presentation.” During the Q&A, one teacher asked if parents were allowed to “override a student’s request for different pronouns/alternate names.”
In response, the teacher was given the following answer: “No, we shall use a student’s preferred name and pronoun based upon student request,” and “Teachers will use a student’s preferred pronouns and name here at school. But might need to use their original name and pronouns when contacting family” because “using the student’s school preferred name and pronouns might out the students to the parents.”
Escondido Union School District is undoubtedly violating parental rights and the First Amendment rights of teachers.
Parents should be able to trust the schools funded by their tax dollars to, at the very least, inform them about their child’s mental health. Parents alone have the right to guide their children when it comes to topics that are intrinsically tied to deeply personal religious beliefs, like “gender identity” and human sexuality.
Hopefully, this lawsuit sets an important precedent. Teachers should never be forced to disregard parental rights or violate their own religious beliefs.