Anguished moms detail how gender ideology in schools threatens parents' rights, led to suicide
WASHINGTON — Mothers fighting back against gender ideology indoctrination in the public school system detailed the devastating harms it has had on their children and families.
During a panel discussion at the Heritage Foundation Monday, scholar Jay Richards hosted three mothers who have been at the forefront of resisting this ideological push in the education system. Though their experiences were different, the mothers — January Littlejohn of Florida, Abigail Martinez of California, and Nicole Solas from Rhode Island — spoke of how school officials undermined their ability to parent and concealed from them what their children were being taught in the classroom.
Solas, a mother of two who's also a senior fellow with Independent Women’s Forum, said the teachers union in her state sued her because she had filed public records requests seeking information about the teaching of gender theory and critical race theory in schools.
When Solas asked questions about how these theories were being taught, she was told that undefined “common practices” were being used. One such common practice was that educators were told not to refer to students as boys and girls or other gendered terms, and the values of “gender identity” were taught in the curriculum at an age-appropriate level.
Unconvinced in light of the nebulous responses she received, Solas probed deeper and found that the school had, in 2017, a “transgender and gender-expansive nondiscrimination policy.”
“Under the banner of nondiscrimination, they are assisting students to transition genders … and they do it without parental consent.” And in the policy, they are very clear that parents are not included in this.”
This exclusion of parents is because parents are supposedly not “safe” with their children on this issue. But what safe means was also left undefined, she said.
After realizing how much the school could do behind her back, Solas ultimately decided to remove her 5-year-old daughter from the school. She was particularly concerned about the indoctrination of students starting at a young age. The school had “point teams” in which a team of school officials would create a customized gender plan for students in each grade.
Believing this to be illegal, Solas emailed the school’s lawyers and cited Pierce v. Society Sisters, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling about legal parental consent.
“But then, of course, we got stonewalled,” she said, adding that the teachers union is suing her.
Solas subsequently filed an information request inquiring how many students were being secretly transitioned while at school without the knowledge or consent of their parents. The school replied that it could not provide that information because it was private.
“I just want the number. Is it 10? Is it 100? What is it?” Solas recalled asking school administrators before they denied her request, citing student privacy and confidentiality. Solas said administrators also told her the information was "not in the public’s interest.”
In her remarks, Littlejohn, a mother of three and a mental health counselor by training, noted that COVID-19 shutdowns exacerbated the already struggling mental health of many youths, and her daughter was no exception. Her daughter became confused about her sex soon after several girls in her friend group all suddenly started identifying as transgender.
Littlejohn disclosed to the school that her daughter had been struggling and they had sought counseling for her. She mentioned that while they were not affirming the trans identity at home, they felt like they could not stop her from using a nickname while at school. What she didn't know at the time was that the teacher to whom she had disclosed this personal information was also an LGBT advocate.
Behind her back, Littlejohn said the school initiated a meeting with her daughter to discuss which restroom she would prefer to use. School officials summarily told her that her daughter was “protected” under their nondiscrimination policy, and thus, they would not disclose to her parents what was discussed at that meeting.
“To say I was shocked was an understatement,” the Florida mother said.
After much back-and-forth communication, the Littlejohns learned that the school had “socially transitioned” their daughter.
“They had completed a six-page plan behind closed doors, with three school officials that included the vice principal, the guidance counselor, and a social worker I had never met,” she said.
In those six pages were questions about which restroom her daughter preferred to use, which sex she preferred to room with on overnight trips, and even asked which name the school should use when they spoke to her parents. Littlejohn ultimately discovered that teachers were referring to her daughter by a different name, while at the same time deceiving her and her husband by continuing to use their daughter's birth name in their communications with the school.
“They took away my ability to protect my daughter when they did this,” she asserted.
“When parents are excluded from decisions about their child's health and well-being at school, it sends the message to their children that their parents’ input or authority is no longer needed.”
Littlejohn emphasized that similar policies and practices have been implemented in school districts nationwide. The Littlejohns have since filed a federal lawsuit against the school district, the superintendent and the assistant superintendent.
“These types of parental [rights] violations must stop," she declared. "We have to hold schools accountable when they break the law.”
The third mother to share her story did so publicly for the first time. Her harrowing account led many in the audience to burst out in tears.
Martinez, who has lived in California since she was 18, when her family left El Salvador for opportunities in the U.S., recounted how LGBT activists at her daughter’s school, the medical establishment, and social services undermined her at every turn. All of these systems, she said, worked against her as she tried to help her daughter overcome her mental distress.
Choking back tears, Martinez described how her daughter, Yaeli, started struggling with depression in the seventh and eighth grades. Schoolmates had been bullying her and telling her that she was ugly.
When her daughter told her that she felt like she was a boy, “the school counselor was involved, DCFS was involved, LGBT was in there, too, trying to ‘help’ [with] the transition of my daughter.”
Martinez said she was accused of not opening her eyes and not knowing that her daughter had always been male. But she knew that wasn’t true because her daughter had always been a “girly-girl,” was very artistic, and would like to dress up as a princess.
The school principal made things worse, she said. School officials told social services that her daughter would be “better off out of the house.”
Yaeli was removed from her mother's custody when she was 16, and was summarily placed in the state foster care system. Her daughter then started going by the name Andrew.
“I tried my best to get her back, going to court every single month. I never missed a court date because I wanted my daughter back,” she said.
“When I went to court, I asked the judge to please let my daughter have a psych evaluation,” she continued. But since her daughter's social worker said she needed to be affirmed as transgender, the judge denied Martinez’s request.
“What hurt me the most was that I was told not to talk about God,” she said.
Talking about God, a social worker warned her, “was going to make him feel uncomfortable,” she said, as the social worker referred to her daughter as male. “Because he’s in danger of committing suicide.”
Martinez's voice faltered as she recalled how heartbreak she felt hearing her daughter’s voice changing due to the effects of testosterone.
In September 2019, her daughter took her own life by standing on railroad tracks where an oncoming train struck her and killed her. Martinez learned that her daughter's body had been severed due to the impact, leaving police to recover parts of her daughter’s shattered body from the train tracks.
Losing a child is so painful it hurts to breathe, she said in agony.
“I don’t want this to happen to any other family,” she said, wiping tears from her eyes.
Following the panel, Richards added that Martinez’s daughter, Yaeli, had been told that if parental custody was removed, the state would then pay for experimental transgender medical services, such as cross-sex hormones, which she later obtained at Children’s Hospital – Los Angeles, the location for one of the largest pediatric gender clinics in the country.
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