Mom sues school district for 'socially transitioning' daughter to male behind her back
A California mom is suing her daughter's school district, alleging that district officials went behind her back to affirm her daughter's stated gender identity as a male, which she believes violates her parental rights.
The Center for American Liberty has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Aurora Regino, whose daughter attends classes at the Chico Unified School District in Chico, California.
The complaint alleges that the school district has a "Parental Secrecy Policy," which allows schools to "socially transition students who express a desire to live as a gender different from that associated with their biological sex while ... keeping the social transitioning secret from their parents unless the student specifically authorizes the school to inform them." The school district has denied the existence of such a policy.
Regino's daughter, referred to in the lawsuit as "A.S.," told a school counselor in early 2022 that she "felt like a boy." The counselor allegedly encouraged the then-fifth-grade student to adopt a name and identity consistent with her new gender identity as a male and informed the child's teacher about her new identity.
The complaint maintained that the district did not notify Regino of the affirmation of her child's expressed gender identity.
"After several weeks of A.S. identifying as a boy at school, Ms. Regino learned about A.S.'s new gender identity," the lawsuit reads.
"Ms. Regino was supportive of A.S. but upset that the school had not even informed her that it was socially transitioning her daughter from a girl to a boy. She tried to encourage the District to abandon the Parental Secrecy Policy in favor of a policy that would involve parents in students' gender transitions, but she was told that this policy was required by California law. This is false."
The court filing claims that district officials pointed to Assembly Bill 1266 as why the schools must abide by a "Parental Secrecy Policy."
The document notes that the district's director of elementary education sent Regino a link to a frequently-asked-questions page about the law, which declared that "schools must consult with [the] transgender student to determine who can and will be informed of the student's transgender status, if anyone, including the student's family."
Regino's legal team rejected the idea that the law requires the "Parental Secrecy Policy," stressing that the text of Assembly Bill 1266 only gives trans-identified students the right to "participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities … and use facilities consistent with [their] gender identity."
The lawsuit characterizes the school's actions as a violation of parental rights under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to "direct the upbringing of their children; to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children; to direct the medical and mental health decision making for their children; and to make private familial decisions regarding their children without undue interference by the state."
Regino is asking the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California to declare the school's actions unconstitutional and issue an order preventing the school district from enforcing such a policy.
Defendants in the lawsuit include the Chico Unified School District's Board of Education and its individual members as well as Chico Unified School District Superintendent Kelly Staley.
Although Regino didn't consent to the school's efforts to socially transition her daughter, she did give permission for her child to attend a "Girls Group" after the child had voiced concerns about anxiety and depression.
The lawsuit contends that the "Girls Group" was pitched as an "arts and crafts" group but quickly morphed into discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity after Regino's daughter expressed reservations about her gender.
During the spring semester, the child had additional one-on-one meetings with the school counselor, who provided the child with resources related to a male identity and even brought up the topic of "breast binding."
Although the child wanted to inform her mother of her new gender identity, the school counselor was allegedly not supportive of that course of action and encouraged her to speak with other family members first. The lawsuit contends that the counselor never told the child to discuss her feelings with a mental health professional.
The complaint further alleges that the school counselor had encouraged students to explore their gender identity in class before having one-on-one meetings with the student.
The complaint implied that Regino's daughter began experiencing gender confusion due to the counselor's comments in class.
Regino's daughter is currently in sixth grade and now attends a different school in the district. Her gender dysphoria has subsided to the point where she no longer identifies as a boy. The plaintiff's other daughter has been transferred to another school in the district.
In a statement, Superintendent Staley assured parents that the school district doesn't have a "Parental Secrecy Policy."
"In regard to the lawsuit, we value our community and will thoroughly review and investigate any claims. As you know, Chico Unified continues to focus on family engagement and works hard to maintain open and transparent communication. We highly value the relationships our families have built with their schools," she said.
Staley urged parents to "reach out to our District Office if they have specific questions regarding our curriculum, instruction or policies."
Regino's lawsuit comes at a time when many public school districts face increased scrutiny for policies requiring teachers to keep parents in the dark about their child's gender identity if the child prefers his or her parents not to be told.
In 2021, January and Jeffrey Littlejohn filed a similar lawsuit against the public school district in Leon County, Florida, insisting that district officials embraced their daughter's gender identity behind their backs by "colluding with [our] daughter to deceive us so that we would never have known she was going by an alternate name."
These concerns prompted the state of Florida to pass legislation requiring schools to notify parents about changes to their physical or mental health and forbidding them from withholding information from parents.
Last August, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by a group of parents in Montgomery County, Maryland, seeking to stop a school district policy forcing teachers to withhold information about students' gender identity from parents.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org