Can a school district require teachers to hide a student’s gender identity and ‘social transition’ from his or her parents? Two teachers from a California middle school are suing the Escondido Union School District—or EUSD, a K-8 school district—and the California State Board of Education over policies that force them to do just that.

Attorneys from the Thomas More Society filed suit April 27 in Mirabelli, et al. v. Olson, et al., on behalf of California teachers Elizabeth Mirabelli and Lori Ann West. The suit argues EUSD’s new policies, requiring teachers to accept and aid in a student’s ‘social transition,’ violate the Free Speech and Free Exercise clauses of the First Amendment.

EUSD’s implementation of a series of new policies on the treatment of transgender and gender-diverse K-8 students drafts teachers into facilitating the process “by using any pronouns or a gender-specific name requested by a student,” but “reverting to biological pronouns and legal names when speaking with parents in order to actively hide information about a child’s gender identity from his or her parents.” In this way, the EUSD’s policies force elementary and middle school teachers to hide critical information about their students’ ‘social transition,’ or the use of a new name and pronouns to ‘validate’ a gender identity that is not consistent with a person’s sex.

“Parents and caretakers” are, according to district administrators, individuals who “do not have a legitimate need for the information”—no matter the age of the student involved. If a suspicious parent finds out, teachers are instructed to refrain from honestly answering any questions on the matter. Moreover, if a parent discovers their child’s social transition, and objects, the school district’s policies prohibit teachers from respecting parents’ wishes.

“It is unfathomable that Escondido Union School District has a policy that forces teachers to withhold from parents some of the most fundamental and basic information about their children,” explained Paul Jonna, Thomas More Society Special Counsel and Partner, LiMandri and Jonna LLP.

This policy is known as the “Parental Exclusion Policy.” In effect, only underage children attending this K-8 school district are allowed to make such important and sometimes life-altering decisions—while parents are left in the dark, and teachers are required to unquestionably comply with and support the students’ requests.

“It boils down to the need for a basic trust in the institutions that we support with our tax dollars to protect and defend our children,” Jonna added. “Public schools should never hide information from or lie to parents about a child’s mental health or personal circumstances.”

Elizabeth Mirabelli and Lori Ann West are both middle-school teachers at Rincon Middle School with outstanding, decades-long teaching careers. Mirabelli, a devout Roman Catholic, has taught English at EUSD’s Rincon Middle School since 1997—where she’s been named ‘Teacher of the Year.’ West, a devout Christian, has taught physical education at Rincon Middle School since 1999, where she has twice been named ‘Teacher of the Year….’

Morally and religiously, Mirabelli and West found themselves at odds with the school district’s new policy. Perpetrating a scheme of deception against parents is deeply immoral, they believe. Mirabelli and West, as a Catholic and a Christian, respectively, both believe that God immutably creates each person as male or female.

Both Mirabelli and West have continued to directly experience the effects of the policy, interacting with students who have requested that parents not be notified of their new gender identification—an identity incongruent with their biological sex. For example, in August 2022 alone, Mirabelli received a list of seven transgender or gender-diverse students. Six of the seven students requested that teachers actively deceive their parents and withhold this information….

Full story from the Thomas More Society.