Email about hiding student pronouns creates possible legal trouble for Arizona public school

A middle school principal in Arizona is in hot water after a staff email showed the school tried to hide students’ pronoun preferences from parents.

Under a recent Arizona law, the school and the district to potentially being sued by parents for its practices.

In an email marked “CONFIDENTIAL,” Principal Mark Rubin-Toles of Orange Grove Middle School wrote, “Teachers and staff, if you are like me you may have been challenged recently to keep some of our kids’ pronouns and preferred names straight – and to remember what can and can’t be shared to families,” according to Fox News.

The email in question was obtained by Nicole Solas, senior fellow with Independent Women’s Forum, through a records request. 

In response to inquiries by Fox News, Catalina Foothills School District in Tucson, Arizona, immediately denied hiding pronouns and said that the email is not in accordance with district practices.

“This has never been our practice in our school district. We respect any student’s preference regarding how they are addressed in school, be it a nickname or a pronoun request,” Julie Farbarik, Director of Alumni & Community Relations, told Fox.

“However, as students are informed, if a parent were to inquire, our staff do not keep this information from parents. Further, we encourage students to discuss these matters with their parents,” added Farbarik.

Solas accused the district of being “coy” with its answer, and it could have good reasons for being less than honest on the issue.

Arizona’s House Bill 2161, which became law last year, allows parents to sue schools and other government entities when they “usurp” parental rights in the upbringing of children.

In response to the bill’s passage, the district made changes to their policy on controversial subjects, as revealed in school board meeting minutes.

“House Bill 2161 included a private cause of action that allows parents to sue ‘governmental entities’ for obstructing or interfering with the fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing, education, health care, and mental health of their children. The language in this policy was amended to reflect that teachers have a great responsibility for educating their students, but ultimately parents direct their upbringing, education, health care, and mental health,” reads the summary report from the Sept. 27 meeting.

A month later, Associate Superintendent Dr. Mary Jo Conery, who recommended the changes, again reminded the district of the importance of adhering to the new law.

 “I was just reminding our community and our board, that parents do have the right to direct the upbringing of their students,” Dr. Conery told Arizona Public Media.

But the school’s public comments and internal communications revealed by Solas are clearly contradictory.

“The school is being coy,” Solas told Fox. “They’re saying that they keep secrets from parents until the parents ask if there are any secrets.”