Michigan parents are suing one of the state’s school districts after it allegedly used male pronouns for their autistic daughter without their knowledge.
Dan and Jennifer Mead’s child was born a girl but now identifies as male. She began attending schools in the Rockford Public School District (RPSD) in kindergarten and started meeting with a school counselor when she was in middle school.
Recently diagnosed with autism, the student’s school counselor routinely spoke to the parents about her mental health, school work, and diagnosis.
In May 2022, the girl asked the counselor to inform teachers that she wanted to be referred to by he/him pronouns and a masculine name. As the then-13-year-old entered the 8th grade that fall, the teachers were happy to comply with her request, but they didn’t bother telling her parents.
“No one with the school district told them that the school district had begun to treat her as a boy by calling her a masculine name and by male pronouns,” Vincent Wagner, an attorney for the parents, told WOOD-TV8.
The child’s parents only learned of the male pronouns after a school employee sent them a report that accidentally included a note from their daughter’s teacher. In it, the teacher referred to their little girl by her “male” name and preferred pronouns.
According to the lawsuit, it is the district’s policy to do just that — only they aren’t supposed to let the parents know about it if the kid isn’t “out” to them.
As a result, the Meads were denied the opportunity to help their child, Wagner argued, and that is a violation of their constitutional rights.
“They weren’t able to help her in a difficult time in her life,” he said. “So it prevented them from helping her and that denied them their constitutional rights. Schools shouldn’t keep information like that from parents.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed the lawsuit against the school district on behalf of the parents on Monday.
By failing to notify the Meads of their daughter’s desire to be called a boy, the district violated their 1st and 14th Amendment rights, it alleges.
The Meads, it turns out, are Christian. Attempting to “socially transition” their daughter goes against their faith.
“Parents, not the government, have the right to direct the upbringing, education, and health care of their children,” ADF Senior Counsel Kate Anderson, director of ADF’s Center for Parental Rights, said in a release. “Schools should never deliberately hide vital information from parents, yet that’s exactly what the Rockford Public School District did.”
The Meads have since pulled their daughter out of public school and are now homeschooling her — a move that has meant that Dan Mead has been unable to go back to work, according to NewsNation.
In addition to asking that the district’s policy be declared unconstitutional, the lawsuit seeks attorney fees and nominal and compensatory damages resulting from Dan’s loss of work.
According to RPSD Superintendent Steven Matthews, Ed.D., the district has not yet been served with the legal documents.
“We respect the privacy of this family and as such have no comment at this time,” Matthews said in a statement. “Our staff continue to support all students and their families as we work together to help our students learn and grow.”
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