Two teachers from Rincon Middle School in Escondido filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging district policies on what information officials may share with parents of transgender and gender-nonconforming students.
The lawsuit, filed in San Diego federal court, alleges that the Escondido Union School District‘s policies prohibiting teachers from discussing students’ gender identities with their parents are unconstitutional.
The complaint states teachers are required to use “any pronouns or a gender-specific name requested by the student during school, while reverting to biological pronouns and legal names when speaking with parents in order to actively hide information about their child’s gender identity from them.”
The lawsuit filed on behalf of Elizabeth Mirabelli and Lori Ann West names various officials from the Escondido Union School District and California State Board of Education as defendants.
Representatives with the district’s Superintendent’s Office declined to comment on the lawsuit, which seeks a court order finding that the district’s policies violate the First Amendment.
The complaint alleges that district representatives told the teachers that the policies might be required by state and federal law and referenced a page on the California Department of Education website referencing Assembly Bill 1266, the School Success and Opportunity Act, which was signed into law in 2013.
The website states, “The right of transgender students to keep their transgender status private is grounded in California’s anti-discrimination laws as well as federal and state laws. Disclosing that a student is transgender without the student’s permission may violate California’s anti-discrimination law by increasing the student’s vulnerability to harassment and may violate the student’s right to privacy.”
The teachers’ attorneys are also seeking a declaration finding the conclusions on the DOE’s webpage are unconstitutional and that the district is not required to enforce or implement its “Parental Exclusion Policies.”
In a news release, the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, which is representing Mirabelli and West, identifies them as “devoutly Catholic and Christian, respectively, in their beliefs and consider the school’s policies a violation of their religious liberties.”
Earlier this year, a new bill sought to force California school districts to notify parents should a school employee learn a student was identifying as a gender that doesn’t align with their birth certificate or other official records.
LGBTQ activists railed against the bill, AB 1314, stating it could endanger LGBTQ+ youths.
The Assembly Education Committee’s chair, Al Muratsuchi, announced earlier this month that no hearing date would be set for the bill, stating, “This bill would require educators to `out’ a student to their parents, even when the student does not feel comfortable coming out, potentially forcing them into an unwelcoming or abusive home.”
– City News Service and staff reports