Posted by on November 12, 2021 5:01 pm
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Florida parents sue after school clandestinely orchestrated daughter’s gender transition

Symbol of a transgender and female and male gender symbols drawn with chalk on a black background (itakdalee/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Florida parents sue after school clandestinely orchestrated daughter’s gender transition

Jeremiah Poff November 12, 04:43 PMNovember 12, 04:57 PM

The parents of a Florida teenager have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit after their daughter’s school directed their child to pursue a gender transition without notifying them.

January and Jeffrey Littlejohn of Tallahassee, Florida, filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida last month, seeking to “vindicate their fundamental rights to direct the upbringing of their children” after Deerlake Middle School, where their 13-year-old daughter was enrolled, failed to notify them that their daughter had entered a school-sanctioned gender transition plan.

The lawsuit, which names the school superintendent, the assistant superintendent, and the Leon County School Board as defendants, says the Littlejohns’ daughter informed them during the COVID-19 lockdown in spring 2020 that “she was confused about her gender and believed she might be non-binary.”

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The Littlejohns’ daughter, who is referred to as A.G. in court filings, “asked her parents to permit her to change her name to ‘J.’ and to use ‘they/them’ pronouns” as the 2020-2021 school year approached, the lawsuit says.

Her parents declined but told her she could use the “J” name in school as a nickname.

“We didn’t think it was in the best interests of our child,” January Littlejohn told the Washington Examiner in an interview. But, she went on, “we didn’t feel like we would stop her friends from calling her a different name.”

The lawsuit says the Littlejohns informed their daughter’s math teacher, Rima Kelly, about the teenager’s gender dysphoria and continued treatment with a mental health counselor on Aug. 27, 2020.

Kelly offered to inform the school about their daughter’s desires to identify as nonbinary, which the parents declined. The teacher is not a named defendant in the case.

A couple of weeks later, on Sept. 14, while she was getting into the car, the Littlejohns’ daughter mentioned that the school had asked her which bathroom she wanted to use, which the lawsuit says she thought was “funny.”

January Littlejohn told the Washington Examiner that was the first time she became aware that the school was meeting with her daughter and assisting the teenager in embracing a different gender identity in school settings. The school did not facilitate any transition-related medical procedures.

The school claimed nondiscrimination law barred them from informing the parents about the meeting with their daughter, which occurred on Sept. 8, 2020, unless the child authorized them to be there.

The Littlejohns’ attorney, Vernadette Broyles of a nonprofit law firm called the Child and Parental Rights Campaign, said that when the couple asked to see the law the school was relying on, “they could not provide one.”

The school district did not respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit says that the school district was relying upon the LCS Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Gender Nonconforming and Questioning Support Guide, which expressly directs school administrators to avoid notifying the child’s parents about a child’s gender identity, claiming such an action could lead to the student becoming homeless.

“What the school district did is tantamount to saying children need to be protected from their parents, rather than by their parents,” Broyles said. “This guidance that they had in place and their actions convey the message that parents are presumed to be dangerous to their children.”

“That is an extremely disturbing message to any parent, regardless of their views, beliefs, backgrounds,” she continued, “and is certainly not the law in the state of Florida.”

January Littlejohn, who said she is a licensed mental health professional in Florida, said that she and her husband “tried very hard to resolve this” by repeatedly meeting and communicating with school and district officials and only resorted to a lawsuit as a last resort when the school district refused to rescind the support guide as its primary resource for handling cases of student gender dysphoria.

“If they had done what we asked them to do, we wouldn’t be here,” she said, before noting that the same guidance that informed the school district’s actions in her daughter’s case is in use in numerous other Florida counties and across the country.

Broyles called the situation a national parental rights crisis, saying: “When parents are excluded from decisions affecting their child’s health and well-being, and mental health, as this decision does, it harms children because it drives a wedge between the child and their parents, and many times, these are vulnerable children.”

“Their parents are their best advocates. Their parents are their best protection,” she continued. “No school official loves these children like their parents.”

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“This lawsuit is really about protecting the rights of parents to raise their children without the interference of government officials,” the Littlejohns’ attorney said. “But it’s also about protecting and championing the vulnerable children that are at the center of these situations.”

© 2021 Washington Examiner

Originally appeared at Washington Examiner

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