An eight-year-old boy is suing his private school for "discrimination" after the institution refused to use female pronouns or allow the third-grader to wear a girl's uniform to class. A lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Orange County Superior Court.
In 2016, Nikki Shah-Brar told his parents he identified as a girl: "I’m a girl. I want to be called a girl," he reportedly told them. Priya Shah and Jaspret Brar capitulated to their child's gender confusion and informed Heritage Oak Private Education that their son would enter third grade as a girl. After the private school allegedly provided "roadblocks" to Nikki's transition, the family decided to sue.
Administrators told Brar and Shah that they would treat the little boy as a boy, says the suit.
“They said that we could grow her hair out,” Brar told BuzzFeed News. “But they said no girls bathroom, no female pronouns, no girls name, and no girls uniform.”
The school, in a statement to BuzzFeed, said they tried to work with the parents, offering a private bathroom for Nikki, for instance.
The suit claims that Heritage Oak Private Education "illegally discriminated against the girl on the basis of gender identity in a business, engaged in fraudulent business practices, and intentionally inflicted emotional harm," notes BuzzFeed.
"Heritage Oak and Nobel Learning Communities exhibited reckless disregard for the emotional distress it would cause her, and engaged in the intentional infliction of emotional distress in violation of California common law," says the suit.
The girl's mother said that her son is on board with the lawsuit against Heritage Oak Private Education, which he stopped attending in February.
“We would not have done it if she didn’t support it,” she said. “This was a family decision. We thought we had to stand up for our child who was standing up for who she was. This is not something we do lightly.”
But lawyers for Nikki have made it clear that this lawsuit is politically-driven:
“Given that Trump and the Justice Department have turned their back on the discrimination of transgender individuals, it’s important to put the word out there that this sort of discrimination is actionable in every state in the nation,” said Public Council lawyer Mark Rosenbaum.
"The crux of the suit rests on California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, which bars businesses from discriminating based on a person’s gender identity. The complaint also claims the school violated portions of the California Business and Professions Code, which bans fraudulent practices and misleading advertisements — the complaint alleges the school falsely claims to offer a program that educates the 'whole child' and give students 'a sense of self-worth,'" explains BuzzFeed.
Responding to the allegations, Heritage Oak and Nobel Learning Communities told BuzzFeed they want to "support not just this 7-year-old, but other young children."
The statement said they wanted to prepare other students for the change. "Due to the sensitivity of the issue and age of the child, we believed we needed expert guidance regarding timing," it said.
"We told the family we had decided to retain an outside consultant to assist us, and we were communicating with the family on a consistent basis to discuss potential experts and specific accommodations (in addition to the other accommodations we had already offered, such as use of the single-unit staff bathroom, specific options as to girl's uniform clothing and girl's hairstyle, as well as ceasing to use gender groupings in physical education activities)," the statement continued.
"Unfortunately, these accommodations were rejected and the parents withdrew their child," closed the statement.
The complaint claims Phyllis Cygan, the executive director of Heritage Oak, told the parents that “Nikki would have to wear the boy’s uniform, use a boy’s name and pronouns, and use the staff restroom. ... She said that Heritage Oak is a ‘conservative institution’ that focuses on ‘character education’ and that allowing Nikki to transition would ‘create an imbalance in our environment.’”
Shah says her son was bullied by other students; other kids told him, "You're a loser," “You just don’t know you’re a boy,” and “You can’t change being a boy."
"She asked us about suicide," Shah said. "She talked about harming herself and hating herself. She refused to go to an open house because she couldn’t handle putting on a male uniform.”
“This is not a trend, it’s not a fad, it’s not a phase,” said the mother. “This is who she is at her very core, and if you can’t learn and grow at school, then you can’t be who you are. We stand with Nikki and we want to do our small part to make sure other transgender kids don’t have the same trauma.”