Parents Sue School Alleging Teachers Persuaded Their Child’s Gender Identity
A group of parents are suing their children's school claiming they persuaded them to switch their gender identity.
The parents of middle school children in Massachusetts have filed a lawsuit against the Ludlow School District accusing them of keeping secret their children’s gender identity transitioning. The suit claims the school, teachers, and principal encouraged the children to change their names and pronouns without the parents’ knowledge. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are two sets of parents – Stephen Foote and Marissa Silvestri, and Jonathan Feliciano and Sandra Salmeron.
Foote and Silvestri, according to the lawsuit, are accusing the district and administrators of violating due process while Feliciano and Salmeron are accusing them of religious freedom because of the district’s gender identity policies. According to the lawsuit, Foote and Silvestri have two children. One is a biological girl who identifies as genderqueer. The other is a biological boy who identifies as transgender. Although Feliciano and Salmeron’s children have not been identified in the lawsuit, they claim that the school district’s gender identity policy infringes their free exercise of religious rights. The parents say that because of their sincerely held religious beliefs, they require obedience to parents, and truthfulness and that they firmly and religiously believe that children are created as either female or male.
The main focus of the lawsuit revolves around Foote and Silvestri’s biological girl, who is identified in the lawsuit as B.F. One of the lawsuit’s complaints is that when B.F. was a sixth-grader, she was given an assignment, along with her entire class, to make a video describing their preferred pronouns and their gender identity. “The videos of their children were created without the parents’ knowledge or consent and it remains unknown how these videos were used or who was allowed to view them,” the suit claims.
A few months after this assignment, the suit alleges that B.F. had a virtual meeting with a teacher to discuss many serious gender identity topics such as their insecurities, poor self-image, low self-esteem, and the perception of being unpopular. The young student then explained to the teacher that she believed she was attracted to girls. She confessed she wasn’t sure how to approach her family about getting help. The student finally agreed with the teacher to have them reach out to the student’s mother, which she did. The teacher felt it was important to share with B.F.’s mother her gender identity and mental health concerns. After this very impactful discussion, the student’s parents got their child a therapist.
Then, according to the suit, Silvestri sent an email to a number of B.F.’s teachers as well as members of the Ludlow School Committee thanking them for their utmost concern regarding B.F. She also asked them politely to “not have any private conversations with B. in regards to this matter” of gender identity. Her request was to let B.F.’s family address the matter with the proper professionals.
As the complaint states, though, two months later B.F. sent an email herself to the school counselor, her teachers, and school administrators. The suit then claims that the school counselor sent out a reply to all telling B.F.’s teachers not to tell her parents of B.F.’s new gender identity or the new pronoun preference. In the email, the counselor said via the New York Post, “R**** [B****] is still in the process of telling his parents and is requesting that school staff refer to him as B**** and use she/her pronouns with her parents and in written emails/letters home.” The lawsuit claims the teachers complied with the school counselor’s request. The parents found out and became extremely upset, demanding that the school not interfere with their private matter.
Along with B.F., the lawsuit also states that Foote and Silvestri learned that their other child, the biological boy, had “identified as transgender and requested to be called by a female name.” Teachers and the school kept this gender identity issue from them as well. To make a terrible situation even worse, when B.F.’s teacher decided to finally share the school counselor’s email chain with the parents, school principal Stacy Monette placed the teacher on leave.
Andrew Beckwith, an attorney for the parents, says that the back and forth between the children and the school shows that the school is “hiding it from parents intentionally.” Beckwith went even further with the complaint saying, “The term groomer is being used a lot today,” Beckwith said via The Hill. “Imagine what goes through any parent’s mind when you have some other adult talking to your kid about sexuality — and saying we’re going to hide this conversation from your parents. “Despite the parents specifically telling the school, ‘We’re getting mental health treatment for our daughter and we don’t want the school interfering with that’ … [School staff] continued to have clandestine conversations,” he said.
The school district claims they have been following proper procedure in accordance with the state gender identity guidance, but Beckwith begs to differ. He pointed out a provision in the guidance that says parents have sole authority over any gender identity disclosure for children 13 years or younger.