Parents expose schools’ transgender subterfuge
Lawsuits in Florida, Wisconsin, and California challenge schools keeping families in the dark
One month into the 2020 school year, Jeffrey and January Littlejohn learned that the staff at a Florida middle school met privately with their 13-year-old daughter, who had recently started expressing gender confusion, to develop a transgender “support plan.”
The plan, the parents said, involved teachers referring to the girl by a new name and nonbinary pronouns and allowing her to pick her preferred restroom and overnight lodging accommodations—all without the Littlejohns’ knowledge or consent. Teachers were instructed to hide the child’s new identity from parents.
Last October, the couple fired back with a federal lawsuit against the Leon County School District. The Littlejohns said school officials violated their parental right to be involved in decisions that affect their daughter’s health, safety, and well-being.
Lawsuits like the Littlejohns’ are springing up across the nation. Parents are increasingly challenging the constitutionality of school districts and teachers implementing policies and deceptive tactics to affirm transgender lifestyles among children and conceal their new identities from parents.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Jan. 14 agreed to hear a case involving 14 parents who sued the Madison Metropolitan School District. The group of anonymous parents filed the lawsuit in 2020 in response to the district’s policy of instructing school employees to assist children at any age, upon their request, to assume a transgender or nonbinary identity. The policy directed staff to hide a student’s new identity from parents unless the child consented to disclose it.
A lower court granted a partial injunction, preventing the Madison school district from lying to parents who might ask about a child’s gender identification at school. Attorneys for the parents appealed to the state Supreme Court seeking parental consent and notice before a child transitions at school, according to Luke Berg of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. (The firm, representing the case with Alliance Defending Freedom, also appealed to the state Supreme Court to protect the parents’ identity, citing retaliation against them and their children.)
While percentages vary, studies show that gender dysphoria resolves itself in about 80 percent of children who experience it, and they eventually accept their biological sex. Vernadette Broyles, president and general counsel of the Child and Parental Rights Campaign, the firm representing the Littlejohns, said schools are sending confusing messages to children and driving a wedge between them and their parents.
“School officials are not competent nor are they authorized to make significant mental health decisions for a child,” Broyles said. “The immediate response from school officials should be, we need to get the parents involved.”
The long-term psychological effect of allowing children with gender dysphoria to socially transition is unknown. Many parents and medical professionals worry that encouraging children to identify as the opposite sex sets them on a path toward transgender medical interventions, such as puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgeries with lifelong and irreversible effects.
In a separate case, two sets of Wisconsin parents sued the Kettle Moraine School District for a similar policy that excluded them from decision-making about their child’s identity at school.
The Spreckels Union School District in California came under scrutiny after journalist and author Abigail Shrier published leaked audio and documents from a California Teachers Association conference held in October. Teachers in the Spreckels district said they recruited middle schoolers to an LGBT club by monitoring their Google searches. To ward off parents, they said they kept no records of student membership and told sixth grade participants, “What happens in this room, stays in this room.”
On Wednesday, the Center for American Liberty announced a legal claim against the Spreckels district on behalf of Jessica Konen, a mother who said teachers used deceptive tactics to entice her sixth grade daughter to assume a transgender identity and join an LGBT club at Buena Vista Middle School. Konen said teachers instructed her daughter to keep her new name, male pronouns, and bathroom preferences secret.
“You took away my ability to parent my child, even before I had any knowledge,” Konen said in a heated response to the Spreckels district at a Dec. 15 school board meeting.
Meanwhile, the Alliance Defending Freedom sent a demand letter to the Harrisonburg, Va., school district regarding its transgender policy that circumvents parents. Similarly, the Child and Parental Rights Campaign is preparing legal action against the Clay County School District in Florida, according to Broyles.
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