California Teachers Sue School District Over Policy of Hiding Children’s Gender Transition from Parents

Teachers from a California middle school sued their school district and the state education board on Thursday over policies that they say require them to hide students’ intentions to change genders from their parents.

The federal lawsuit filed by attorneys from the Thomas More Society alleges that administrators at the Escondido Union School District and California State Board of Education violated the First Amendment with a policy that would compel teachers to aid in a student’s transgender “social transition.” The litigation was prompted by Escondido’s implementation of a series of new policies on the treatment of “transgender” or “gender diverse” students.

Plaintiffs Elizabeth Mirabelli and Lori Ann West, who are devoutly Catholic and Christian, also allege that the district’s policies infringe on their religious freedom, Paul Jonna, a lawyer representing the pair, said in a prepared statement.

National Review has reached out to the school district and the education board for comment.

Under the policies, teachers must refer to students by their preferred pronouns or gender-specific names during school hours but revert to biological pronouns and legal names when speaking with parents, the complaint states. At Escondido, once a teacher learns of a child’s social transitioning, he or she has an obligation to ensure parents do not discover this, according to the lawsuit.

The policy states that “revealing a student’s transgender status to individuals who do not have a legitimate need for the information, without the student’s consent” is prohibited. Regardless of the student’s age or circumstances, the policy says “parents or caretakers” are individuals who “do not have a legitimate need for the information,” according to the lawsuit.

Under the policy, teachers will be trained to lie to “a suspicious parent” by dodging questions. They are told to tell concerned parents that “the inquiry is outside of the scope of the intent of their interaction” and that they can only discuss “information regarding the student’s behavior as it relates to school, class rules, assignments, etc.” When further probed by parents, teachers are instructed not to provide any more detail on the child’s gender confusion.

In an internal Q&A portal obtained by Thomas More called “Rights of Gender Diverse Students Presentation” for Mission Middle School, which is under EUSD’s jurisdiction, a teacher asked: “Is a parent allowed to override a student’s request for different pronouns/alternate names?”

The answer provided was: “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.”

The district’s own Professional Standards, found in the Board Policy Manual, say that “Being dishonest with students, parents/guardians, staff, or members of the public” constitutes “Inappropriate Conduct,” Thomas More uncovered.

“It boils down to the need for a basic trust in the institutions that we support with our tax dollars to protect and defend our children. Public schools should never hide information from or lie to parents about a child’s mental health or personal circumstances,” Jonna said. “And schools should never compel teachers to perpetrate such a deception.”

More from National Review