Two teachers filed a federal lawsuit against their California school district, alleging they were required to lie to parents about their children’s gender identity.
The suit names the Escondido Union School District (EUSD) and its district administrators, as well as the the California State Board of Education.
Veteran teachers Elizabeth Mirabelli and Lori Ann West of Rincon Middle School in Escondido, California claim the district ordered teachers to accept a child’s gender identity without question and to conceal that information from families.
They say they were also forced to use a child’s preferred pronouns at school but the legal name and matching pronouns around parents.
A transcript of district training from Feb. 3, 2022, obtained by Fox News, corroborates the teachers’ claims.
“The school or District shall accept the student’s assertion of their gender identity and begin to treat the student immediately, consistently with that gender identity. The student’s assertion is enough. There is no need for a formal declaration. There’s no requirement for parent or caretaker agreement or even for knowledge for us to begin treating that student consistent with their gender identity.”
The transcript includes a warning to teachers that “refusing to address the student by the name and the pronoun consistent with their gender identity” would be considered harassment and discrimination according to the district’s policy.
Teachers also received instruction on how to avoid telling “suspicious parents” the truth, by responding to parent questions by saying teachers are only allowed to speak about “information regarding the student’s behavior as it relates to school, class rules, assignments, etc.”
The school’s policy also prohibits “revealing a student’s transgender status or gender diverse status to individuals, including parents and caretakers, who do not have a legitimate need for the information.”
Attorney Paul Jonna, who represents the two teachers, called the district’s policies “blatantly unconstitutional” and likened the forcing of these teachers to use preferred pronouns to “compelled speech.”
Jonna explained to the host of “Fox & Friends Weekend” that there is precedent for striking down such policies which have proliferated in school districts across the nation.
“Schools routinely send notes home to parents about trivial matters, like missing homework, so it is unfathomable that Escondido Union School District has a policy that forces teachers to withhold from parents some of the most fundamental and basic information about their children,” Jonna said.
While Mirabelli and West, who are both Christians, received a religious accommodation regarding the use of preferred pronouns and names, they were not afforded any leeway about the rules to intentionally deceive parents, which the suit contends violate their First Amendment rights.
The EUSD superintendent, Luis A. Rankins-Ibarra, avoided the specifics of the suit in a statement on the matter, but alluded to compliance with federal and state laws, speaking of a desire for “teachers to excel as educators.”
Jonna says the policies rather put parents and teachers at odds.
“The real outrage here is that schools are requiring educators to hide critical information from parents about their child’s well-being,” Jonna said.
“Rather than partnering with parents to help raise up young people with a well-rounded education and breadth of knowledge, these radical agendas are pitting parents and teachers against one another, to the detriment of their students.”