Parents sue school district, allege deception in ‘gender transition’ of daughter

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Two parents are suing a Michigan school district alleging that their 11-year-old daughter’s middle school treated her like a boy for months and actively deceived them about their child’s “gender transition.”

The parents, Dan and Jennifer Mead, sued the Rockford Public School District this month, claiming that the school’s actions violated their First and 14th Amendment rights to exercise their religion and to make decisions about their daughter’s upbringing, education, and health care. 

The parents are represented by the legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which said this month that the parents are supported by prior Supreme Court precedent on religious and parental rights guaranteed by those constitutional amendments.

“Parents, not the government, have the right to direct the upbringing, education, and health care of their children,” ADF Senior Counsel Kate Anderson, the director of ADF’s Center for Parental Rights, said in a statement

“Schools should never deliberately hide vital information from parents, yet that’s exactly what the Rockford Public School District did,” Anderson said. “District employees didn’t even notify Dan and Jennifer — let alone seek their consent — before beginning to call their young daughter by a masculine name and male pronouns.”

Anderson told CNA that the parents were regularly working with school staff after their daughter was diagnosed with autism to discuss how the school could best serve her. 

Despite this regular contact, she said the school district withheld information about the school’s efforts to socially “transition” the child and that school officials actively worked to deceive the parents in conversations as well as by altering official records. 

Although teachers and staff were using male pronouns and a masculine name during school hours and in official school records, they would use her given name and female pronouns “in their conversations with her parents,” according to Anderson. 

When the school shifted the girl’s name and pronouns “on official records,” they would allegedly mislead the parents by “erasing and replacing names and pronouns” when sending information to her parents. 

Anderson said the parents “found out inadvertently” after “a period of months” when school officials forgot to alter one of the documents before sending it to her parents. The Meads withdrew their daughter from the school after learning of the alleged deception. 

When reached for comment by CNA, Rockford Public Schools Superintendent Steve Matthews said that at that time they had not yet “been served with any legal documents” and that “our comment would be that we have no comment at this time because we have not been given notice of this legal proceeding.” 

“It seems they have gone to the media and not to us with this legal proceeding,” Matthews told CNA. “At some point we will comment but right now we have no information so we will refrain from discussing this issue right now.”

Anderson told CNA that “these policies are spreading district to district” but that the level at which the school was “actively lying to these parents” and “altering official documents” is not something she had seen before.

The filing asks in part for “nominal damages, compensatory damages, and such other damages to which the Meads may be entitled” as well as “a declaration that the district’s policy facially and as applied to the Meads violates the Meads’ First and 14th Amendment rights under the United States Constitution.”

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