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American News Apr 20, 2022 10:45 PM EST

School slapped with lawsuit after keeping children's 'gender identity' secret from parents

Defendants in the Massachusetts case accused parents of "prejudice and bigotry" for raising concerns about being kept in the dark about their own children.

School slapped with lawsuit after keeping children's 'gender identity' secret from parents
Nick Monroe Cleveland, Ohio

Last Tuesday, two sets of parents filed a lawsuit against a Massachusetts school system over "gender identity policies" which allowed their kids to explore their gender identities without parents being informed of their status.

They allege that the Superintendent of Ludlow Public Schools, along with the principal, and school counselor of Baird Middle School, facilitated a secretive environment that separated them from this knowledge.

When the teacher of one of the students did inform parents about what was going on the middle school principal placed her on leave. The former superintendent at one point publicly accused the parents’ concerns "amounted to 'intolerance of LGBTQ people thinly veiled' behind a 'camouflage of parental rights.'"

Parents Stephen Foote and Marissa Silvestri alleged in the lawsuit that the Ludlow Public School system encouraged their son to adopt a new name and gender pronouns. A second set of parents, Jonathan Feliciano and Sandra Salmeron, say school policies of withholding information about their children’s gender identities violates religious rights, and their rights as parents, according to Fox News.

The suit was prepared and filed for the families by the Massachusetts Family Institute and Campaign for Parent and Child Rights.

In response to the lawsuit, Ludlow School Committee Chair James Harrington told MassLive that they "want to support our students the best we can. But we should bring parents to the table and hope they respond in a loving and supportive way as well."

"Defendants’ protocol and practice of concealing from parents information related to their children’s gender identity and efforts to affirm a discordant student gender identity at school violates parents’ fundamental rights under the United States and Massachusetts constitutions and violates children’s reciprocal rights to the care and custody of their parents, familial privacy, and integrity. As to Plaintiffs Jonathan Feliciano and Sandra Salmeron, it also violates their fundamental right to free exercise of religion under the United States and Massachusetts constitutions," the lawsuit reads.

Former Superintendent of Ludlow Public Schools, Todd Gazda, is named in the suit. He’s said to have been in the position until July 2021. A December 2020 email sent by one of the mothers, Mrs. Silvestri, requested that the school board not get involved with the mental health dilemmas of her child.

The lawsuit says Ludlow staff ignored this request for the next six months.

"In reckless disregard of Plaintiffs Foote’s and Silvestri’s parental rights to make mental health decisions for their children and in direct contravention to their explicit instructions, Baird Middle School staff, and in particular Defendant Foley, have engaged in regular communications with B.F. in which B.F. talked about having a discordant gender identity and requested to be called by a male name, "R," and affirming the discordant identity and name."

A previous incident involved teachers instructing incoming sixth-graders to say "their gender identity and preferred pronouns" in video assignments. This was allegedly demanded without consent of parents.

However this is what "B.F." told Ludlow teachers in February 2021, in an email:

"Hello everyone, If you are reading this you are either my teacher or guidance counselor. I have an announcement to make and I trust you guys with this information. I am genderqueer. Basically, it means I use any pronouns (other than it/its). This also means I have a name change. My new name will be R****. Please call me by that name. If you deadname me or use any pronouns I am not comfortable with I will politely tell you. I am telling you this because I feel like I can trust you. A list of pronouns you can use are: she/her he/him they/them fae/faerae/aer ve/ver xe/xem ze/zir. I have added a link so you can look at how to say them. Please only use the ones I have listed and not the other ones. I do not like them."

This was said to be kept from the child’s parents because the child was "in the process" of coming out to them.

In related news, the Parents Defending Education group recently highlighted how the all-girls Catholic Carondelet High School subjected students to a "cultural fair" which included booths where they made "pronoun buttons," alongside presentations about gender identity.

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