A California school district has agreed to pay $100,000 to a mother who accused educators of encouraging her daughter to switch genders behind her back, a deal hailed by her attorneys as a “resounding victory for parental rights.”
“Today’s settlement is a clear message to schools: parents will not stand idly by as schools trample on their right to raise their children,” said the Center for American Liberty, which represents Jessica Konen and her daughter Alicia.
The center announced Tuesday a settlement between the Spreckels Union School District and Ms. Konen, who claimed in a lawsuit filed last year that the school hid her daughter’s new name and pronouns from her after teachers convinced the seventh-grader that she was transgender.
“At its core, this case is about upholding the sacred bond between parents and their children,” said center CEO Harmeet Dhillon. “Parents have an inherent right to be involved in pivotal decisions concerning their children’s lives.”
Spreckels Union reportedly did not admit fault as part of the agreement. The newsfeedworld has reached out to the district for comment.
The settlement sends mixed signals to California parents: It comes a day after Attorney General Rob Bonta sued the Chino Valley Unified School District for requiring schools to inform parents of their children’s gender transitions, calling it a “forced outing policy.”
The lawsuit filed in Monterey County Superior Court said that Spreckels Union operated under a “Parental Secrecy Policy” on students seeking to adopt opposite-sex social identities.
The lawsuit alleged that the two teachers who headed the Equality Club at Buena Vista Middle School told 11-year-old Alicia that she was transgender, encouraged her to take on a male identity, warned her not to tell her family and then hid the information from her mother.
The school drew up a Gender Support Plan for the girl that included a new name, male pronouns and unisex bathroom use, but did not tell Ms. Konen.
During the pandemic, however, Alicia switched to all-remote learning and “began to return to her original self,” the lawsuit said. Afterward, she attended high school in a different school district using her real name and female pronouns.
“If you choose not to fight for your children, then they will fight and take your children,” Ms. Konen said in a statement. “Stand up parents, it’s your right to be able to parent your own children.”
Ms. Dhillon said the center was “thrilled to have played a role in this landmark victory, which sends a clear message that parental rights must be respected.” “Jessica and Alicia’s courage has inspired countless others to defend their rights against unwarranted intrusions,” she said.
Last year, Spreckels Union released the results of an independent investigation into the Equality Club, also known as UBU, that concluded the teachers named in the lawsuit did not engage in “coaching” or other manipulative behavior to convince students to switch genders.
Chino Valley Unified was the first of several California school districts to approve policies requiring educators to inform parents when their children seek to adopt opposite-sex identities at schools, instead of hiding them.
Protect Kids California announced Monday a campaign to place three transgender-related initiatives on the November 2024 ballot, including a measure requiring parental notification for children’s gender-transition efforts.