(Daily Caller News Foundation) – A federal judge ruled Wednesday that two California teachers who were placed on administrative leave for refusing to hide students’ gender transitions from parents should be reinstated.
Elizabeth Mirabelli and Lori Ann West filed a lawsuit against the Escondido Union School District (EUSD) and the California State Board of Education in April last year over a policy that required educators to hide a child’s preferred pronouns and gender identity if a student asks to keep parents in the dark. Mirabelli and West were put on administrative leave in May, but a judge ruled this week that the district must reinstate the teachers.
“The Court Orders the School District to return Plaintiffs Elizabeth Mirabelli and Lori Ann West back to the classroom on Tuesday, January 16th of 2024 if they so choose,” the court order reads, according to text obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation from the Thomas More Society. “Both sides are expected to work in good faith going forward to resolve this matter. Plaintiffs’ request for attorneys fees is denied.”
“I’m shocked! I’m still processing. I cannot believe it,” West told FOX 5, a local media outlet.
Both Mirabelli and West applied to get a religious exemption to the district’s policy and were granted the ability to refrain from using preferred pronouns but were not allowed to inform parents. U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez ruled in September that the district could not enforce the policy for the duration of the lawsuit, saying that the “new policy appears to undermine their own constitutional rights while it conflicts with knowledgeable medical opinion.”
The plaintiffs alleged that after they filed the lawsuit the district retaliated against them by delaying an investigation for five months that should have been concluded in 30 days, according to FOX 5. The judge dismissed a request by the teachers to hold the school district in contempt for the investigations, but Paul Jonna, an attorney with the Thomas More Society who is representing Mirabelli and West, said that the judge’s decision is not uncommon.
“Judges are typically reluctant to hold parties in contempt,” Jonna told FOX 5. “It’s a pretty serious penalty, but what he did … I view it as a warning to them if they violate his orders again, it’s going be much more serious.”
The district did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.