Two Christian teachers in California who sued their San Diego-area school district for allegedly forcing them to deceive parents about students' gender dysphoria have added Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta to their lawsuit.
Elizabeth Mirabelli and Lori Ann West, who taught for decades at Rincon Middle School in Escondido, sued the school, the Escondido Unified School District (EUSD), and the California Board of Education last April over its gender policies, which they claimed required them to hide students' gender identity from parents in violation of their First Amendment rights and Christian faith.
Last month, George W. Bush appointee Judge Roger Benitez of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California ruled that Mirabelli and West must be allowed to return to their jobs at Rincon Middle School, which West did on Jan. 16. The two had been placed on administrative leave after their whistleblowing became a national story.
The judge's ruling came after attorneys for the teachers pursued contempt sanctions against the defendants, alleging that their clients were not allowed to safely return to work in defiance of a court order Benitez issued in September. Benitez declined to grant the motion last month.
The policy to which Mirabelli and West objected mandated that "any district employee to whom a student's transgender or gender-nonconforming status is disclosed shall keep the student's information confidential."
The teachers were told to use students' preferred names and pronouns in school, but to use their given names when speaking with their parents, according to the suit.
During an interview with Fox News Digital last year, Mirabelli said she was alarmed when she also discovered that school officials were altering the names and genders of students at the middle school on official records without their parents' knowledge or consent.
Thomas More Society Special Counsel Paul Jonna, who is representing the women, laid ultimate blame for the school district's gender policies at the feet of Newsom, according to a statement provided to The Christian Post.
"These previously named defendants are all operating under the supervision and control of the governor, who has ultimate responsibility for overseeing the state’s education system," Jonna said.
"The Escondido Union School District has asserted that it is compelled by the state to adopt and enforce parental exclusion policies in which California dictates the deception requiring teachers to lie to a parent about their students," he continued. "That leads to the conclusion that the state, and therefore the governor, is the driving force behind the violation of Elizabeth Mirabelli and Lori Ann West’s constitutional rights."
Jonna also penned an open letter last September in response to Bonta's guidance titled "Guidance Regarding Forced Disclosure Policies Concerning Gender Identity," which Jonna claimed was misleading and in direct conflict with Benitez's preliminary injunction that month ruling that EUSD cannot enforce its gender policy against the two women while their case is pending.
Jonna went on to claim that the California Department of Education has "tried to have it both ways."
"On the one hand, they tried to tell the court that their 'guidance' on gender identity policies is not mandatory, even though they used words like 'must' and 'required,'" he said. "Meanwhile, elsewhere in California, they’re working hand-in-hand with the California attorney general enforcing this supposedly non-binding 'guidance' with litigation and by withholding millions of dollars of state education funds."
"Fortunately, the court saw though this last September — and the injunction we obtained binds all of the applicable state actors," he added. "But because the California AG and the governor are so connected to this fight, we’re naming them as defendants to hold them fully accountable as well."
CP has reached out to the California Department of Justice and will update this story if they respond.
Jon Brown is a reporter for The Christian Post. Send news tips to email@example.com