Parents Catch School Secretly Calling Daughter a Boy’s Name, Male Pronouns—Now They’re Suing

Parents Catch School Secretly Calling Daughter a Boy’s Name, Male Pronouns—Now They’re Suing
Michael Wing

As first days of school go, fall was a real struggle for the sixth-grader:

Michigan parents Dan and Jennifer Mead say their then 11-year-old daughter’s first semester at East Rockford Middle in 2020 was bumpy, as she fell behind in class and saw the school’s counselor regularly for her slumping grades and severe anxiety.

But at least she was in good hands, the Meads trusted.

That was then. Now they point out how that trust was broken in autumn 2022. They allege that a teacher inadvertently let them know that the school was socially transitioning their daughter by treating her like a boy—referring to her by a masculine name and male pronouns.

In December 2023, the couple filed a federal lawsuit against East Rockford Public School District for violating their parental rights. They contacted Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to represent them in court.

Mr. and Mrs. Mead. (Courtesy of Alliance Defending Freedom)
Mr. and Mrs. Mead. (Courtesy of Alliance Defending Freedom)

“Parents, not the government, have the right to direct the upbringing, education, and healthcare of their children,” ADF attorney Kate Anderson said in a statement. “Schools should never deliberately hide vital information from parents, yet that’s exactly what the Rockford Public School District did.”

When The Epoch Times contacted Rockford Public Schools Superintendent Steven Matthews, he declined to comment, saying the district prefers “not to try and litigate a case in the media.” He gave their reasons: “The case is currently in the courts,” and “to protect the rights of the student and family.”

Court documents, however, point to school staff who claimed to have been, and apparently were, just following the district’s policy when they began calling the child by her preferred name and pronouns behind the parents’ backs.

Allegations also point to efforts made by staff members to alter official handouts for the Meads, obfuscating the social transitioning treatment, yet staff claimed it “wasn’t to hide anything from parents.”

To hear the family’s side of the story, though, they were betrayed. Significant trust had been built after their daughter’s initial meetings with the school counselor. She opened up about her concerns for sick family members and frustrations with teachers. As the discussions delved more into her mental health, the counselor stayed in close contact with the parents, often sharing what had been discussed. But the close partnership that had been established between the parents and school over many months was dashed by revelations of the school transitioning their child in secret—so they allege.

A photograph depicting how classrooms might have looked with students wearing masks during the pandemic in 2020. (Illustration - MikeDotta/Shutterstock)
A photograph depicting how classrooms might have looked with students wearing masks during the pandemic in 2020. (Illustration - MikeDotta/Shutterstock)

As for the social transitioning allegations, the version penned in the lawsuit goes something like this:

In May 2022, toward the end of her seventh-grade year, the child, now 13, messaged her counselor requesting that teachers call her by a boy’s name and assign her masculine pronouns come eighth grade in the fall.

The school counselor still kept up close communications with the parents about discussions she and their daughter had, yet somehow she failed to inform them of this crucial request.

So, as the girl began eighth grade in August 2022, teachers were already calling her by her masculine name—and this went on for several weeks—without her parents’ knowledge or consent.

Furthering the deception, court documents allege, staff acted in concert to alter official records to deliberately hide this social transitioning treatment from the Meads, in direct violation of their parental rights.

The truth finally got out in October 2022 when Mr. Mead met with a staff member to discuss how the district might accommodate his daughter’s autism. He and his wife discovered district staff were hiding her male name and pronouns from them when a teacher inadvertently gave him a document that included the masculine nomenclature.

At first, Mrs. Mead thought the boy’s name was a mistake, wondering if it was for some other child. But it soon became clear that it was no mistake.

(Illustration - SEALANDSKYPHOTO/Shutterstock)
(Illustration - SEALANDSKYPHOTO/Shutterstock)

The document had originally used masculine names and pronouns to refer to their daughter, but this was altered back to her legal name, per district policy, to be given to the parents—the teacher had just forgotten to reverse all of it.

On learning this, the Meads asked the school to cease and desist using the masculine names, but the district refused, citing policy—they had no choice. And so, the mom and dad withdrew their daughter from the district in October 2022 to be homeschooled.

“No school district should be making important decisions on behalf of parents, much less concealing those decisions from them,” Mr. Mead told The Epoch Times.

“In our case, the district’s policy not only required employees to remain silent about significantly important information regarding our daughter,“ he said, ”but actually encouraged those employees to alter official records, concealing the district’s actions from us and furthering the deception.”

The Meads contacted ADF, who filed a lawsuit on their behalf in December 2023. ADF argues that their parental rights are protected by the First Amendment, including in fundamental questions of existence such as sexual identity. The Fourteenth Amendment further guarantees parents’ rights to make the decisions about how to raise their children.

“The Meads believe that each of us is born with a fixed biological sex that is a gift from God, not an arbitrary imposition subject to change,” the lawsuit states. They also believe “referring to a child using pronouns that are inconsistent with the child’s biological sex is harmful to the child because to do so communicates a message to and about the child that is untrue.”

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Michael Wing is a writer and editor based in Calgary, Canada, where he was born and educated in the arts. He writes mainly on culture, human interest, and trending news.
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