Complaint: Living a “double life of deceit and secrecy” without their parents’ consent, experts say, is “psycholocially unhealthy” for children.
Earlier this month, a New Jersey father of three high school students filed a federal lawsuit against his local school district and the state over its secret social transitioning policy. A ruling in the father’s favor could be a breakthrough for parents fighting for their rights to be involved in their children’s care and upbringing.
The father’s court case comes as schools across the country continue to double down on similar social transitioning policies—policies that facilitate students’ requests to change sex by changing their names, pronouns, and restroom access—all without the parents’ knowledge or consent.
Those are the rules nationwide. If parents object to them, schools say that just shows what transphobes they are.
We’ve chronicled the controversy over secret social transitioning in public schools these past several months here:
- After Male Students Protested To Protect Female Classmates, Pennsylvania High School Nixes Transgender Bathroom Policy
- Groundbreaking Win For Parents: WI State Court Rules Against School’s Secret Gender Transitioning Policy
- Missouri AG Sues School Board Over Secret Transgender Bathroom Policy Meetings
- California Federal Court Says Teachers Don’t Have to Comply With School’s Secret Gender Transitioning Policy
- First Circuit Court of Appeals Hears Oral Argument in School Secret Social Transitioning Case
- California Court Blocks School District’s Gender Notification Policy
- NJ Governor Sues Schools To Halt Parental Notification Of Gender Social Transitioning of Their Kids
- Maryland Parents Can’t Sue School Over Policy On Secret Gender Transitioning, Federal Appeals Court Rules
- Federal Courts Allowing Secret Social Transitioning in Schools, Rebuff Parents’ Rights
In New Jersey, the State has been on the warpath ever since four of its school districts passed policies to notify parents when their children tell staff they want to change genders. Governor Phil Murphy promptly sued those districts for defying its policy—a policy which is not mandatory—and which, as in other states, directs schools to keep it a secret from parents when their children decide they belong to the opposite sex.
According to the State, though, keeping parents informed discriminates against trans kids. In an interview, Murphy downplayed the conflict with parents, insisting that while “parents are always involved,” the State had to sue the school districts to “protect the rights of these precious kids.” The court agreed this past August, temporarily blocking parental notification while the legal proceedings play out.
The State’s strategy of avoiding direct confrontation with parents worked. As we wrote then:
Reframing the conflict between parents and the State as one over protecting “trans rights” provides the State with the pretext to assert control over the children entrusted to its care—without having to confront their parents and their pesky rights in the courtroom. At least not directly.
Until now, that is. In his complaint, the father, Frederick Short, asks the court to strike down the policy because the State exceeded its authority when it passed it and because it violates his parental rights to direct the care and upbringing of his children.
That’s because the State-sanctioned secret social transitioning is properly characterized as a medical intervention that must involve the parents to ensure the child’s well-being, according to experts cited in the complaint.
But the State’s guidelines do just the opposite: they draw students into intimate conversations about their gender delusions with school staff—conversations that purposely exclude their parents.
From the complaint:
[T]he Guidance invites students to have open but confidential conversations with school district personnel regarding their gender identity or status. These are serious conversations that do not feature parental involvement. Schools are then required to accept a student’s gender identity alteration request without parental consent, and such chosen gender identity and pronouns are required to be utilized by school personnel. This gender identity change can occur without any threshold diagnosis or treatment. The student can dress in accordance with his/her preferred gender identity.
And as in other cases, to keep up the charade, school policy tells staff to keep two sets of books:
Separate and distinct school files/records are required for the birth name and chosen name, and school personnel are directed to amend all pertinent personally identifying document so as to ensure consistency, “To ensure consistency among teachers, school administrators, substitute teachers and other staff, every effort should be made to immediately update student education records (for example, attendance records, transcripts, Individualized Education Programs, etc.).”
Accordingly, not only are parents entirely removed from the conversation regarding a student’s gender identity/status, but through the school’s facilitation, transitioning or transgender students can lead double-lives whereby they adopt different name, pronouns, and apparel than is the case in their home life or other areas of their lives.
The Guidance actively promotes deceit, wherein confidential conversations – regarding the very grave subject matter of gender identity – are conducted outside the realm of the family circle, where such conversations should rightfully be.
But living such a “double life of deceit and secrecy” without their parents’ consent, the complaint’s expert says, is “psychologically unhealthy” for children:
For a child to live radically different identities at home and at school, and to conceal what he or she perceives to be his or her true identity from parents, is psychologically unhealthy in itself, and could readily lead to additional psychological problems . . . Extended secrecy and a ‘double life’ concealed from the parents is rarely the path to psychological health. For this reason, at least, schools should not support deceit of parents.
That is exactly the conclusion a Wisconsin state court came to earlier this month when it ruled in favor of parents who challenged their school’s gender identity policy. Social transitioning, the court said, was “undisputedly a medical and healthcare issue” within the parents’ purview.
As in Wisconsin, the New Jersey federal court is now faced with the common-sense argument the State didn’t want to have over parents’ rights this summer. Short’s lawsuit reorients the debate away from the State’s dubious position that trans children’s rights override the rights of their parents to oversee their medical care—rights which, as many have pointed out, do not so much as allow a child to take a Tylenol in school without parental permission, even in the blue state of New Jersey.
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