Parents in Tallahassee, Florida filed a lawsuit against the Leon County School Board for violating their parental rights by secretly affirming their daughter, who was only 13 years old at the time, in her gender confusion.
In a press statement sent to The Daily Citizen announcing the suit, the Child and Parental Rights Campaign (CPR-C) explained that school officials met with January and Jeffrey Littlejohn’s daughter, identified only as “A.G.” in the lawsuit, on September 8, 2020, without their knowledge or consent.
At that meeting, held at Deerlake Middle School, three staff members and the girl developed a “Transgender/Non-Conforming Student Support Plan.” The staff asked the girl how she wanted to be identified, what pronouns to use when speaking about her, whether she wanted to use the girls or boys bathroom, and whether she felt more comfortable rooming with boys or girls on overnight trips.
The support plan “indicated that their daughter was “comfortable” rooming overnight with either boys or girls” and “said that her parents were not to be notified (emphasis in press release).”
“The document also indicated that school staff were to use a new name and ‘they/them’ when referring to the Littlejohn’s daughter at school, but to use her given name and ‘she/her’ when talking to her parents, effectively deceiving the parents concerning what was going on at school,” CPR-C’s press release stated.
The middle school was following advice from “Leon County Schools’ (LCS) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Gender Nonconforming and Questioning Support Guide.” The guide was produced by the district’s equity and diversity department, headed by Kathleen Rodgers, Ph.D., who is also named in the lawsuit.
The Littlejohns found out about the LCS staff meeting with their daughter a week after it took place, but they were not informed about the support plan or guide until November. Mr. Littlejohn finally found a copy of the guide on the LCS website; the link now says it “is currently being reviewed and is under revision.”
The lawsuit says, “Mr. and Mrs. Littlejohn were shocked to learn that the Guide deliberately and intentionally directed LCS staff and personnel to disregard parental rights by NOT telling parents when their children asserted a discordant gender identity.”
The legal complaint carefully explains that parents have the fundamental right to direct the upbringing of their children, and the middle school implemented “a protocol which explicitly circumvents parental notification and involvement in critical decisions affecting their children’s mental, emotional and physical health.”
The parents repeatedly asked the school what their legal justification was for meeting with their daughter and creating a transgender support plan – without their approval or involvement. They were told that the law protected their daughter’s privacy.
According to the lawsuit, “Mrs. Thomas [a school counselor] told Mrs. Littlejohn that A.G. was now ‘protected’ under a non-discrimination law that does not include parental notification or input. Mrs. Thomas told Mrs. Littlejohn that her only recourse was to ‘contact Dr. Kathleen Rodgers at the district who oversees the policy.’”
Of course, there is no Florida or federal law that allows or requires schools not to tell parents about a child’s struggles with gender identity. The lawsuit alleges, “Defendants acted with deliberate indifference to Plaintiffs’ fundamental parental rights enacting the Guide and its directives which explicitly and intentionally excluded parents from decision-making related to their children.”
In a presentation with the Florida Family Policy Council, “How Gender Ideology Almost Destroyed My Family,” January Littlejohn described how the school’s actions affected her family and their relationship with their daughter. Mrs. Littlejohn said that her daughter had been suffering from ADHD and stress about the COVID-19 pandemic and was part of a group where three other friends had labeled themselves “transgender.”
A.G. had never previously exhibited discomfort with her biological sex or had transgender thoughts, and Mrs. Littlejohn believed that her daughter might be struggling with “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria,” a term coined by Lisa Littman who found similarities with teen and young adult girls struggling with gender confusion.
Those similarities include much of what A.G. was dealing with: mental health or neurological issues other than gender confusion; stress and depression; and a friend group that had bought into gender ideology and where others were “transitioning.”
Mrs. Littlejohn said the LGBT guidelines were “driving a very dangerous wedge between children and their parents” and “send the message to the child that parents are the enemy and that children need to be protected from their parents, instead of by their parents (her emphasis).”
She explained that these messages “created a huge conflict with our daughter and us,” adding, “We were the only people in her life not affirming this new, shiny, glittery identity.”
A licensed mental health counselor, Mrs. Littlejohn said, “Social transition is a complex psychosocial intervention that should always involve parents, as it requires clinical supervision. Further, schools are grossly unqualified to be making these decisions.”
“We know this,” she continued, “because social transition is the first step toward medical transition, that can include experimental medications and hormones, and sometimes surgeries, that often cause long-term irreversible damage, such as sterility and sexual dysfunction to the child that is irreversible.”
Mrs. Littlejohn said there are 12 counties in Florida “that have the same exact guidance and same wording on their website” as LCS.
Among other demands, the Littlejohns are asking the court to declare that the LCS policies violate parent’s “fundamental rights as parents, under the United States and Florida constitutions, the Florida Parents’ Bill of Rights and other statutes”; teachers and staff may not deceive parents or help a child “transition” without parental notification and consent; and LCS must publicly rescind their LGBT guide.
In addition, they are asking for compensatory damages for emotional distress; for “exacerbation of A.G.’s psychological and educational challenges”; for causing “ongoing emotional and psychological damage to their family dynamic”; and for costs related to counseling and educational expenses to give their daughter “an appropriate education untainted by ideological distractions.”
CPR-C attorney Mary McAlister stated in the press release that “school officials cannot continue to ignore the direction of parents concerning their minor children’s mental health and well-being. Parental rights are amongst our most venerated constitutionally protected rights and are critical to the integrity of our public school system of education.”
Related articles and resources
Florida Family Policy Council Videos:
The Daily Citizen: