The parents of an eight-year-old California boy who identifies as a girl have sued the private school that their son had been enrolled in for allegedly “being forced to live as a boy,” including requiring him to wear the boys’ uniform and not using his preferred female name or pronoun.
“When any adult says to a child, ‘You may not live according to your gender identity,’ that is serious emotional distress,” attorney Mark Rosenbaum told reporters. “There isn’t anything more heartless in the world than telling a child ‘do not follow your heart.’”
Jaspret Brar and Priya Shah are seeking compensatory damages from Heritage Oak Private Education over the matter, as well as a change to the school’s policies. They state that their son, who goes by the name Nikki, has experienced emotional trauma over the situation.
“Heritage Oak repudiated Nikki’s core identity. It refused to use the name, pronoun, and gender corresponding to Nikki’s gender identity, required Nikki to wear the boy’s uniform and use the boy’s restroom, and failed to address the bullying that Nikki was subjected to because of her gender identity and gender expression,” the lawsuit states.
As a result, “Nikki became depressed and talked about self-harm; she isolated herself socially and would not play with other children at recess because she could not be herself with them; she would not participate in school-related events after hours when she had to wear boy’s clothes; and she felt that the school was blocking her ‘inner light.’”
Brar and Shah have since pulled their child out of school, stating that the last straw was when he tore a photograph of himself in half and declared, “I hate myself.”
The school responded to the lawsuit with a statement advising that it needed time to contemplate how it would educate elementary school students about gender identity, and noted that it had offered other options to the family in the interim, which were refused.
“We believed it was extremely important to respond, not hastily, but with deliberate care, to decide when and how to inform and educate our entire elementary school community of students, staff and parents about the mid-year change of gender identity expression of a young child,” it said. “Due to the sensitivity of the issue and age of the child, we believed we needed expert guidance regarding timing … process and age-appropriate communication.”
“We told the family we had decided to retain an outside consultant to assist us, and we were communicating with the family on a consistent basis to discuss potential experts and specific accommodations (in addition to the other accommodations we had already offered, such as use of the single-unit staff bathroom, specific options as to girl’s uniform clothing and girl’s hairstyle, as well as ceasing to use gender groupings in physical education activities),” the school explained.
“Unfortunately, these accommodations were rejected and the parents withdrew their child.”
Rosenbaum says that the issue was not the school’s timing, but the “roadblocks” that were created for the student.
In addition to seeking policy changes, punitive damages and payment of attorney’s fees, Brar and Shah want the school to incorporate discussions on transgenderism in its curriculum. Full Report