Teachers engage children to change their gender identity

By Brian Melley | Related press

LOS ANGELES – A mother who claims a teacher secretly manipulated her 11-year-old daughter to change her gender identity and name has filed a lawsuit against a small California school district.

Spreckels Union School District is responsible for “extreme and outrageous conduct” that caused a student to transition into a boy and drive between mother and child, according to a lawsuit filed by a conservative legal group. submitted on Wednesday.

Jessica Konen said two high school teachers who ran the school’s Equality Club – later known as UBU (You Be You) – planted the seed that her daughter was bisexual in 6th grade and later. brought up the idea that she was transgender.

The legal claim – a precursor to a lawsuit – comes after a row in the county last fall after the author of a book widely criticized as “anti-transgender” quoted two teachers. spoke at a conference on how to run an LGBTQ+ club in a conservative. community.

The Spreckels Union School Board listens to public comment during a board meeting in Spreckels, California, Wednesday, December 15, 2021. A mother claims the teacher secretly manipulated her 11-year-old daughter. her age to change her gender identity and name filed a legal lawsuit against the school district. (AP Photo / Nic Coury)

Spreckels is a small point of a town in the agricultural Salinas Valley. It was once home to the world’s largest sugar refinery and was the setting for several scenes from the 1955 film based on John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden”.

While Konen said her daughter had revealed she was bisexual, the mother had no idea she was identifying as a boy until she was called to a meeting at the junior high school principal’s office. Buena Vista campus in December 2019 when her daughter was in 7th grade.

She was not told the purpose of the meeting until her daughter entered the room and sat across from her and teacher Lori Caldeira learned.

“I was really caught off guard. I was blindfolded,” Konen said. “I don’t even know how it feels because I don’t even know where it comes from.”

Konen says she started crying.

She said her daughter was also caught out of the blue. She told the teachers that she wanted to inform her mother, but did not know they had arranged a meeting that day.

Konen said she gave permission for the school to use her son’s name for schooling purposes and tried to support it, but it was difficult.

As schools transitioned to distance learning during the pandemic in March 2020, Konen said her daughter started going back to her “old self” and now uses her given name.

But it wasn’t until this fall that Konen began to question how her daughter got on the path to a different identity after Abigail Shrier’s article went viral around town.

In a leaked audio recording from a California Teachers Association conference, Caldeira and Kelly Baraki were quoted discussing how they kept meetings private and “tracked” students online to find people. recruitment.

“When we do our virtual learning – we completely track what they are doing on Google, when they are not doing their schoolwork,” says Baraki. “One of them was googling ‘Trans Day of Visibility.’ And we were like, ‘Check.’ We will invite that child when we return to campus. “

The Associated Press could not be reached by Caldeira or Baraki for comment. Caldeira told the San Francisco Chronicle that the citations are accurate but taken out of context or misrepresented. The stalking comment was just a joke, she said.

Caldeira, who has been given the award as a role model for inclusion, defends their work, saying that students set the agenda and teachers are there to provide honest and fair answers to their questions.

Teacher Lori Caldeira poses for a photo at her home in Salinas, California, Friday, January 21, 2022. (AP Photo / Nic Coury)

The teachers were placed on administrative leave in November. They attended the conference on their own time, but the district said, “many of the opinions and themes expressed in the article are alarming, disturbing, and disappointing” and do not reflect the their books.

The district has hired a law firm to investigate, which is ongoing and the UBU club has been suspended.

Konen was applauded when she criticized school board members at a meeting in December, saying teachers had stripped her of her ability to parent.

Superintendent Eric Tarallo said the legal request would be addressed in the justice system and personnel policies prevented him from disclosing if the teachers returned to the school. He said the district is reviewing and updating its policies on student clubs.

The California Teachers Association said the conference is one of dozens of annual meetings that, in part, help educators understand the need to protect students from discrimination, including sexual orientation. education and gender identity or expression.

It criticized the group bringing the lawsuit, which it noted was using the lawsuit to raise money for their cause.

Spokesperson Lisa Gardiner said: “We are concerned about a current political environment in which external political forces foster chaos and misinformation and seek to divide parents. , educators and school communities for their own political gain,” said spokeswoman Lisa Gardiner. “The Center for American Freedom is interested in advancing its own political agenda through litigation and has filed numerous lawsuits against various school districts and communities.”

One of Konen’s main complaints was that she was concealed by the school about her daughter’s club participation, provided by literature teachers, and a “gender support plan” created by administrators. . She said her daughter was even taught how to make adhesives to keep her breasts from growing.

“Parents must have access to all of their children’s education records,” said attorney Harmeet Dhillon, who filed the case. “The notion that schools have the right to operate undercover, clubs that don’t tell your parents, and programs that don’t tell your parents, and actively teach kids how to mutilate themselves, that’s you know, no. growing your breasts is certainly not in accordance with California law. ”

Thomas Perry, son of teacher Lori Caldeira, speaks in support of his mother during public comment at the Spreckels Union School District school board meeting in Spreckels, California, Wednesday, December 15, 2021. The mother who claims the teacher secretly manipulated her 11-year-old daughter to change her gender identity and name has filed a lawsuit with the school district. (AP Photo / Nic Coury)

However, under state and federal law, students have privacy rights that extend to sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Only in limited circumstances can a school notify parents of their child’s gender identity against their will.

“Outside of school, these students may face potential hostility at home for who they are,” said Lambda Legal attorney Peter Renn. “For example, an LGBTQ student unintentionally hanging out with their parents could very well result in them being kicked out of the home in some cases.” Teachers engage children to change their gender identity

Huynh Nguyen

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