The parents of a local teenager are suing Leon County Schools, alleging that teachers met with their daughter concerning her gender identity without their knowledge or agreement. According to the lawsuit, the couple’s middle-school child began experiencing gender dysphoriain late spring 2020.
Despite the child’s request for they/them pronouns and a different name, the parents refused and said that the child’s pronouns would stay the same as those allocated at birth, according to the lawsuit.
The parents claim they never gave their child’s name or pronouns to anyone at the school, and they said they were shocked to learn that their daughter had met with school staff to discuss restroom and field trip preferences without their knowledge.
The lawsuit was filed on Oct. 18 and claims that the district’s policies violate their parental rights under state and federal laws.
The girl’s teachers shared email exchanges with the Tallahassee Democrat between the parents and one of her teachers that show that the parents had in fact encouraged the teacher to meet with their daughter.
Gender dysphoria is defined by strong, persistent feelings of identification with another gender and discomfort with one’s own assigned gender and sex.
Brian Kessler, a sophomore biology pre-med student at Florida A&M, thinks Leon County Schools should get permission from a student’s parents concerning their child’s identity.
“Parents should definitely be notified and be asked for permission if they want to allow their child’s teacher, classmates and faculty to be addressed by their new pronouns,” Kessler said. “Parents may not want their children to be addressed as anything other than their natural born name and pronouns. Either way, parents should be notified about what’s going on with their child.”
Mariah Simmons, a junior African-American studies major at FAMU, thinks Leon County Schools shouldn’t be sued for not getting permission from parents, if in fact that’s what happened.
“School is supposed to be a safe space,” Simmons said. “Not only are schools a place for learning, they’re a place for developing confidence, shaping who you are and to prepare you for the world. However, some children don’t feel comfortable coming out to their parents in fear of their parents disowning them.”
“I think children should be allowed to make their own decision about whether they want their parents to know what they want to be addressed as referring to their gender. Some children may not want their parents to know in fear of what could happen,” Simmons added.
While the legal action is continuing, the parents are seeking the judge to order an injunction prohibiting school officials from enforcing its policies or supporting gender transitions without parental consent.