Elizabeth Mirabelli and Lori Ann West, teachers at Rincon Middle School, are suing the Escondido Unified School District (EUSD) and the California State Board of Education “over policies requiring them to keep secrets from, and even lie to, parents about their minor-age students,” reports the Thomas More Society, which filed the lawsuit on their behalf.
The teachers allege that state and district transgender policies force them to participate in “social transitioning” of students through accepting a child’s chosen “gender identity,” use the student’s “preferred pronouns,” and hide this information from parents.
The complaint says that EUSD’s requirements “violate teachers’ free speech and free exercise of religion rights,” as well as parents’ rights to raise and care for their children.
Thomas More Society Special Counsel Paul Jonna stated:
The real outrage here, is that schools are requiring educators to hide critical information from parents about their child’s well-being. Rather than partnering with parents to help raise up young people with a well-rounded education and breadth of knowledge, these radical agendas are pitting parents and teachers against one another, to the detriment of their students.
EUSD is simply following guidance from California’s Department of Education (DOE), based on state law. Assembly Bill 1266, the “School Success and Opportunity Act,” was signed into law by then-Governor Jerry Brown in 2013.
AB 1266 amended the state’s Education Code, prohibiting “discrimination for all students, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression” and allowing students to participate in sports and use restrooms, locker rooms and showers based on their “gender identity.”
Guidance from the state’s DOE tells schools and districts to implement policies that hide information from parents about their “transgender students,” citing federal law and a minor’s “right to privacy.”
The lawsuit explains that Mirabelli, a devout Roman Catholic, has been an English teacher in the district for more than 25 years and “has been named Teacher of the Year, and even became certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.”
West has taught physical education at the middle school for 30 years. The complaint says:
She has always received outstanding evaluations and has twice been named “Teacher of the Year.” Mrs. West is also a devout Christian, who strives to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ in everything that she does.
In December of 2021, EUSD gave an online video presentation to staff members titled, “The Rights of Gender Diverse Students,” outlining district and state policies on dealing with students with sexual identity confusion. The staff was told:
There’s no requirement for parent or caretaker agreement or even for knowledge for us to begin treating that student consistent with their gender identity.
Students also have a right to privacy. A student’s status is their private information, and the District shall only disclose the information to others with the students prior consent.
EUSD staff members were given this direction:
Furthermore, revealing a student’s transgender status or gender diverse status to individuals who do not have a legitimate need for the information without the students consent, and this includes parents or caretakers, we need that student’s consent prior to sharing.
Mirabelli and West asked for a religious accommodation from the school, so they wouldn’t have to hide information, lie to parents or use students’ “preferred pronouns.” Their requests were denied by the district. West’s letter to the district says:
I am a Christian. As such, I adhere to biblical principles regarding the binary nature of men and women. I have the religious belief that God created 2 sexes: male and female. God created us in his image. … Genetics, Biology and DNA also say that there are only 2 sexes.
I also have the religious belief that the relationship between parents and children was created by God with the intent for the parents to raise and guide their children. …
I also believe that God forbids me from lying. I believe that E.U.S.D. is asking employees to check their religious beliefs at the door.
Mirabelli’s letter to EUSD’s human resources department says:
I am a devout Roman Catholic and adhere to Church teaching and Biblical moral principles regarding the binary nature of man and woman. I sincerely hold the religious belief that God designed the human race male and female, each with a distinct and innate masculine or feminine nature. …
As a Catholic I hold that God created the relationship between parents and children as an inherently sacred and life-long bond. … No one has the right to interfere with – or usurp – the relationship between parents and their children. … To cooperate with a policy which prevents a parent from knowing their child’s gender identity status, and services being provided to the child, is a violation of my deeply held religious beliefs, ethics, and moral standards.
But the district refused to accommodate them.
The lawsuit includes forms, memoranda, presentations, letters and policies from EUSD forcing teachers to hide information about a student’s “gender identity” from parents and requiring teachers to use students’ “preferred pronouns and name.”
It also documents all manner of LGBT paraphernalia, posters, and banners around the middle school, along with “Pride Flags” handed to students, pushing this gender dogma on students.
Mirabella and West are asking the court to declare that the district’s “Parental Exclusion Policies” and the DOE guidance violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Their complaint also asks the court to keep the district from enforcing these policies.
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