Principal told 4th-grader her LGBTQ essay was 'not acceptable,' says lawsuit

Elise Solé
A parent is suing Anderson Mill Elementary School and its South Carolina school district for not allowing her daughter to write a paper on LGBTQ rights. (Photo: Getty Images)
A parent is suing Anderson Mill Elementary School and its South Carolina school district for not allowing her daughter to write a paper on LGBTQ rights. (Photo: Getty Images)

A principal who allegedly said a little girl’s essay on LGBTQ rights was “unacceptable” is getting sued by the 4th-grader’s family.

South Carolina parent Hannah Robertson claims in the March 6th lawsuit that Anderson Mill Elementary School, its principal Elizabeth Foster and Spartanburg County School District 6 trampled on her daughter’s right to free speech by not accepting her essay on transgender discrimination.

In the suit, published by Fox Carolina, teacher Anna Parham’s assignment was for students to write letters on any topic, addressed “To society,” with the papers published together for families to read. Since the girl’s grandfather is a member of the LGTBQ community, she chose discrimination as her topic.

The girl’s paper read:

“To society, I don’t know if you know this but peoples view on Tran’s genders is an issue. People think that men should not dress like a women, and saying mean things. They think that they are choosing the wrong thing in life. In the world people can choose who they want to be not being told that THEIR diction is wrong. I hope people understand that people can hurt themselves from others hurting their feelings. People need to think before they speak because one word can hurt someone’s feelings. We need to fix this because this is getting out of hand!”

When Foster read the paper, she allegedly rejected the topic as inappropriate and made the girl substitute the word “transgender” for “bullying.” The second line was revised to read, “People think that saying mean things is OK and saying mean things.”

Robertson and Foster sparred over the instruction, with Foster’s dialogue becoming “increasingly abusive, harassing, emotionally distressful and/or clearly unwarranted.” In loud voices, Foster allegedly told Robertson that her daughter’s topic would “make other parents upset,” “would create an undesirable situation at the school,” was “not acceptable” and“not age-appropriate to discuss transgenders, lesbians and drag queens outside of the home.”

Foster allegedly told Robertson, “Due to the type of school this is, the people that work here and the students and families of the students that go here, the topic would be disagreeable.”

The little girl is “extraordinarily fearful” of running into Foster at the school. The suit argues the school violated the student’s right to protected speech under the First Amendment and the 4th-grader feels humiliated and depressed.

Robert’s lawyer Eric C. Poston didn’t return a phone call and an email from Yahoo Lifestyle. Robertson could not be found for comment, but she told Fox Carolina she would not comment.

The Spartanburg School District Six told Yahoo Lifestyle in an email, “While the district has not been officially served, we have reviewed the contents of this lawsuit. Based on the fact that this is a legal matter we are limited with the amount of information we can release.” The statement continued, “However, we do consider the claims in this lawsuit to be inaccurate. The district has forwarded a copy of this lawsuit to our attorney and look forward to sharing our side of the story. We are serious about treating every child with kindness, respect, and without discrimination.”

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