Civil Rights Attorney: Putting Kids on Puberty Blockers Is ‘Absolute Child Abuse’

By Brad Jones
Brad Jones
Brad Jones
Brad Jones is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California.
May 2, 2022 Updated: May 4, 2022

Amid allegations of secret transgender indoctrination of schoolchildren and people “coaching” them on gender issues without parental consent, civil rights attorney Harmeet Dhillon says the use of puberty blockers on minors is “absolute child abuse.”

Puberty blockers are causing “permanent harm” to children, Dhillon told The Epoch Times on April 23.

“There are so many lies being told to American families,” she said.

One of them is that puberty blockers are reversible, according to Dhillon.

“The science shows that they aren’t,” she said.

According to the Mayo Clinic, puberty blockers may have long-term effects on future fertility, and St. Louis Children’s Hospital has stated that puberty blockers may cause “less development of genital tissue, which may limit options for gender-affirming surgery (bottom surgery) later in life.”

“It’s one thing for adults to do what they want when they’re of age, but I think it is absolute child abuse to inject children with drugs that permanently make them sterile and stunt their growth,” Dhillon said.

Epoch Times Photo
Civil rights attorney Harmeet Dhillon, CEO of the Center for American Liberty, at the California Republican Convention in Anaheim, Calif., on April 23, 2022. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

Jessica Konen Case

Dhillon’s law firm represents Jessica Konen, a mom who alleges that her daughter was brainwashed into believing that she was transgender by school staff, including teachers Lori Caldeira and Kelly Baraki at Buena Vista Middle School in Salinas, California.

Konen came forward after a leaked audio recording revealed Caldeira and Baraki telling other teachers how they secretly recruited students into the school’s LGBT club. The duo led a workshop called “How We Run a ‘GSA’ in Conservative Communities” at a California Teachers Association (CTA) conference billed as the “2021 LGBTQ+ Issues Conference, Beyond the Binary: Identity & Imagining Possibilities” in Palm Springs last October. They described the obstacles that they faced as teachers to conceal the activities of GSA clubs from parents.

Before attending a Spreckels Union School District meeting in mid-December to expose the alleged brainwashing, Konen told her story to The Epoch Times and accused school staff, including the two teachers, of “coaching” her daughter.

The Center for American Liberty filed a notice of claim under the Government Claims Act, a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit against the California government, on Jan. 19. The state had 60 days to respond, but thus far hasn’t done so, Dhillon said.

“They haven’t responded, and so we’re preparing to take legal action. We do intend to pursue this matter in a lawsuit,” she said.

The notice of claim, Konen v. Spreckels Union School District, alleges that the school district and Buena Vista Middle School adopted a secret policy to keep parents in the dark about students’ gender expression and identity.

Dhillon said in a previous interview that the Supreme Court of the United States “has made it clear parents have a fundamental right to direct the upbringing and education of their children. And their right is denied to them when schools keep secrets from parents, especially on matters as foundational as a child’s identity, name, [and] pronouns.”

School district superintendent Eric Tarallo said on April 7 that a third-party investigation at Buena Vista Middle School would be completed by April 21, but that it could take a few more weeks to report the findings. The board’s next meeting is scheduled for May 5.

Epoch Times Photo
A file photo of a middle school in La Quinta, Calif., on June 16, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

‘So Many Destroyed Lives’

Since news broke of the leaked audio recording, more parents have come forward with similar allegations, and gender identity indoctrination has remained under the national media spotlight. And although she has “heard from hundreds of parents,” Dhillon said she can’t take on every case because of the statute of limitations and other legal considerations.

“If I hear about a kid who has gone through transitional surgery and is now living on the street, like hundreds of these kids I’ve heard about, you know, there’s nothing I can do for that kid. … So, we have to look at what we can do for children who can still be saved,” she said.

During the COVID-19 lockdowns, parents—including Jessica Konen—got a closer look at what their kids were learning in school, according to Dhillon.

“Parents spent more time with their kids. That’s how a lot of this sexual orientation transgender activism in the schools has come to light,” she said. “It’s really important that parents take a more active role in their children’s education, and when people do that, they don’t want to see their [children] taught gender confusion, taught about sex at an immature age, and learning about just ‘woke’ radical things all day in school.”

Studies suggest that most children who show symptoms of gender dysphoria at a young age eventually outgrow the condition. However, those who start puberty blockers as children are much more likely to continue transitioning.

Some people who have transitioned come to regret that decision later in life, and social media activity from these regretters, known as detransitioners, has grown exponentially in recent years.

Although few studies have been done to quantify the number of detransitioners in the United States, more than 28,000 “detrans” members on Reddit alone indicate detransitioning is a growing phenomenon.

Dhillon also pointed out that increasingly more detransitioners in their early 20s are sharing their stories of regret on sites such as Twitter.

“That has so many destroyed lives,” Dhillon said. “It’s an epidemic really—a hidden epidemic—and one of the good things of the last year has been this evil happening right under our noses coming out and being exposed.”

State lawmakers ought to pass laws that prevent “mutilating children,” Dhillon said.

Epoch Times Photo
In this file photo, demonstrators gather in front of Los Alamitos Unified School District Headquarters in Los Alamitos, Calif., on May 11, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Educational ‘Crisis’

The controversy over transgender activism at school and the erosion of parental rights have mobilized parents “like no other issue I’ve seen in my years in politics,” said Dhillon, who recently attended the California Republican Party convention in Anaheim.

Although most parents haven’t paid much attention to local school board issues in the past, they do care if their children are being “harmed at school,” she said.

“I think that that’s going to motivate a lot of people,” Dhillon said.

“American education is at a crisis right now” because too many kids are learning political ideologies instead of the basic building blocks for the academic or vocational foundation they’ll need to succeed in the future, according to Dhillon.

Thousands of parents across the United States since last summer have packed school board meetings protesting critical race theory being taught in classrooms, as well as gender ideology and COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates. A school board recall in San Francisco in February also removed three board members.

Parental Rights

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed the Parental Rights in Education legislation into law in late March. The measure reinforces the rights of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing of their children and prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. It also bans instruction that isn’t age-appropriate.

“Parents’ rights have been increasingly under assault around the nation, but in Florida, we stand up for the rights of parents and the fundamental role they play in the education of their children,” DeSantis said in a March 28 statement.

Democratic lawmakers in California and the Biden administration continue to push for “gender-affirming” care policies, which promote the use of puberty blockers and cross-sex “hormone therapy” for gender dysphoric children.

Brad Jones
Brad Jones is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California.