A federal judge handed parental rights groups a major victory in California Thursday, blocking enforcement of a local school district policy that prevents teachers from telling parents if their child begins identifying under a different gender.
U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez, in a 36-page ruling, criticized the policy by the Escondido Union School District and ruled that two teachers who sued the district over the policy “are likely to succeed” in the case.
Under the district’s policy, a female student can, for example, secretly identify as a male during school hours and use a male name and male pronouns. Teachers and staff, though, are prohibited from disclosing the student’s new identification to parents unless the student grants permission.
Benitez ruled that the policy likely violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. He granted a preliminary injunction blocking the policy.
Parental involvement, he wrote, is “essential to the healthy maturation of schoolchildren.” The two teachers who sued the school asserted that their employer was forcing them to lie.
“The school’s policy is a trifecta of harm: it harms the child who needs parental guidance and possibly mental health intervention to determine if the incongruence is organic or whether it is the result of bullying, peer pressure, or a fleeting impulse,” Benitez wrote. “It harms the parents by depriving them of the long-recognized Fourteenth Amendment right to care, guide, and make health care decisions for their children. And finally, it harms plaintiffs who are compelled to violate the parent’s rights by forcing plaintiffs to conceal information they feel is critical for the welfare of their students – violating plaintiffs’ religious beliefs.”
Benitez posed a series of rhetorical questions, such as: “If a school student suffers a life-threatening concussion while playing soccer during a class on physical fitness, and the child expresses his feelings that he does not want his parents to find out, would it be lawful for the school to require its instructor to hide the event from the parents? Of course not.”
Similarly, he wrote schools must be honest about gender, too.
The Thomas More Society is representing the teachers who sued the school.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/TW Farlow
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.