News (USA)

Two teachers sue district saying their religion requires them to out trans kids to their parents

Plaintiff Elizabeth Mirabelli
Plaintiff Elizabeth MirabelliPhoto: Screenshot

Two teachers at a California middle school are suing their school district because they are required to use transgender students’ pronouns without telling the students’ parents under a district policy to protect the students’ privacy.

“The policy also forces [plaintiff] Elizabeth [Mirabelli] and others like her to violate faith,” said the teachers’ attorney Paul Jonna. “She has constitutional rights that are being violated by this policy, which is forcing teachers to lie and participate in deception.”

Escondido Union School District’s policy follows California state guidelines that say trans students’ identities should be kept private unless the student gives consent or when necessary to protect a student’s physical or mental well-being. Federal and state laws ban discrimination based on gender identity in education.

Outing a transgender student to their parents can lead to abuse and even homelessness for the child, state education officials note, but Rincon Middle School teachers Elizabeth Mirabelli and Lori Ann West say that their religious freedom is more important than student safety.

“This case is about the right to speak freely, the right to exercise my own religious beliefs,” Mirabelli told WRAL News.

She has two transgender students. “They came in with one name and one preference and then midway through the year, that information was changed in the school records without the parents’ consent,” she complained.

In the lawsuit, Mirabelli and West say that it’s their sincerely held religious belief that God made people innately and permanently male or female. Their lawsuit calls the trans students “gender-confused children.”

“Parents should not be left out of their child’s school life. What parent would want that?” Mirabelli told the Union-Bulletin.

“The Escondido Union School District is committed to providing a safe and positive environment that enables our students to learn and actualize their unlimited potential and that empowers our teachers to excel as educators,” said Superintendent Luis Rankins-Ibarra in a statement. “As part of that commitment to student learning, the district observes all federal and state laws.”

The teachers’ lawyer works for a firm that often works with the right-wing anti-abortion legal organization Thomas More Society. The firm sued on behalf of a Christian student in 2021 who said that a school’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate violated the student’s religious beliefs.

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