Christian parents sue Michigan school district for hiding daughter's gender transition

Dan and Jennifer Mead allege in a lawsuit filed in December 2023 that district employees at East Rockford Middle School started treating their 13-year-old daughter as a boy.
Dan and Jennifer Mead allege in a lawsuit filed in December 2023 that district employees at East Rockford Middle School started treating their 13-year-old daughter as a boy. | Alliance Defending Freedom

Two Christian parents in Michigan are suing their daughter's school district for allegedly socially transitioning her without their knowledge or consent and hiding it from them.

Dan and Jennifer Mead allege in a federal lawsuit filed last week that district employees at East Rockford Middle School started treating their 13-year-old daughter as a boy and referring to her with masculine pronouns and a male name after she reportedly told a school counselor that she identified as a male last year.

The Meads allege the school hid their daughter's social transition from them by deceptively changing the girl's records before they were sent home and claim they only found out by accident when an employee neglected to change one of the records.

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"The Meads were stunned when they discovered that the District had — without seeking their consent and while actively concealing information from them — begun to treat [their daughter] as a boy, referring to her with male pronouns and a masculine name at school," according to the lawsuit.

The parents, who attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom are representing, allege that the district violated their "sincerely held religious beliefs and parental rights" by concealing their daughter's gender dysphoria. They have since pulled her out of the school she attended since sixth grade in 2020.

The girl, referred to as "G.M." in court documents, was 11 years old in 2020 and reportedly began to see the school counselor that year because she was struggling academically. Over the next two years, G.M. regularly met with the counselor, identified in the lawsuit as Erin Cole.

Cole was very open with G.M.'s parents about her well-being until the girl claimed to identify as a boy in 2022 in seventh grade, according to the suit. G.M. had requested that Cole notify her teachers that she wished to be referred to with a boy's name, and by the beginning of her eighth-grade year in August 2022, every staff member was reportedly complying.

The girl's social transition took place after she was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder in 2022, the lawsuit claims.

The Meads allege they were never informed of the arrangement. They did not discover it until October 2022, when a district employee inadvertently gave G.M.'s father a document that included teacher comments referring to his daughter using male pronouns and a different name.

The employee later went back and scrubbed the male pronouns from the record even after G.M.'s parents found out, according to the suit.

When her father asked district employees to refrain from treating his daughter as a boy, they allegedly refused, citing district policy. The Meads allege that the district's "constitutional violations destroyed [their] trust in the counselors, administrators, and other District employees with whom they had shared intimate details about G.M.'s and their lives."

"Parents, not the government, have the right to direct the upbringing, education, and health care of their children," ADF Senior Counsel Kate Anderson said in a statement. "Schools should never deliberately hide vital information from parents, yet that's exactly what the Rockford Public School District did."

Rockford Public School District Superintendent Steven Matthews told The Christian Post: "In my opinion, we have an obligation to continue to protect the privacy of this family and their child. As such we will not comment on the case nor try the case in the media. We will respectfully decline to comment and let the legal process run its course."

The issue of public schools keeping gender transitions a secret from parents has proven to be a flashpoint issue in other school districts. A report from the advocacy group Parents Defending Education released in August shows that over 1,000 school districts across the United States have enacted policies permitting or advising staff to withhold information from parents related to their children's desires to transition to the opposite sex or identify as nonbinary. 

Two Christian teachers in California who blew the whistle on their school district's gender policies filed for civil contempt sanctions earlier this month against the Escondido Unified School District for allegedly keeping them from safely returning to work in violation of a court order.

Pamela Richard, a retired teacher in Kansas, received a $95,000 settlement in 2022 following a lawsuit against the Geary County School District, whose administrators allegedly expected her to deceive parents about students' gender identity.

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