Earlier this month, a federal judge ordered a San Diego school district to reinstate two teachers who were placed on administrative leave for refusing to withhold information about students’ gender “transitions” from their parents.
Attorneys from the Thomas More Society represented Elizabeth Mirabelli and Lori Ann West, teachers who were denied religious exemptions from the school district’s secrecy policy. The teachers were instructed to avoid answering any questions from parents about their child’s gender dysphoria. Concurrently, school counselors were helping students socially “transition,” employing a “gender support plan” for these children. These counselors also frequently emailed staff, notifying them of which students were beginning their social “transitions,” and instructing them on how to keep this information hidden from their parents.
School administrators did not inform parents that this policy was in place, according to the lawsuit that also revealed a district social worker had told staff that parents “do not have a legitimate need for the information” about their child’s “gender identity.” The two teachers spoke out against this policy and filed a lawsuit after they were put on administrative leave.
On September 14, 2023, Judge Roger Benitez of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California issued a preliminary injunction in support of Mrs. Mirabelli and Mrs. West. Judge Benitez aptly labeled the school policy as a “trifecta of harm,” acknowledging the detrimental impact it has on children, parents, and teachers. The injunction directed the Escondido Union School District to “refrain from taking any adverse employment actions against Plaintiffs Mirabelli or West until further Order of this Court.” Despite this court injunction, the EUSD kept the teachers on administrative leave.
Judge Roger Benitez’s ruling, issued last week, mandates that the teachers be allowed to resume their positions by this Tuesday, January 16th.
The directive emerges amid escalating tensions in California regarding undisclosed gender “transitions” in schools. Recently, Attorney General Rob Bonta submitted a legal brief to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals supporting a Northern California school district that facilitated the social “transition” of an 11-year-old girl without her mother’s knowledge. The mother, having lost her initial federal lawsuit against this policy, is appealing a decision that contradicts Judge Benitez’s September verdict.
Bonta has also filed a lawsuit against a Southern California school district that prevented teachers and administrators from concealing students’ gender dysphoria from parents. This lawsuit resulted in a temporary suspension of the policy by a state court.
Simultaneously, grassroots activists are mobilizing to gather signatures for a ballot measure. This initiative aims to prohibit schools from hiding students’ gender dysphoria from their parents. It also seeks to ban high school boys from participating in girls’ sports teams and using girls’ locker rooms and bathrooms.
Mirabelli and West’s case is a victory for free speech, religious liberty, and parental rights. Parents must be able to trust teachers, who play a key role in their children’s education. With so many schools in California implementing secrecy policies, more teachers like Mirabelli and West are needed to restore trust with parents and a safe environment for students. Hopefully, ongoing cases and proactive efforts to safeguard children will further rebuild parental trust and counteract any negative influences from activist teachers.