A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit from Massachusetts parents who accused public school officials of hiding their children’s gender transitions from them.
U.S. District Court Judge Mark Mastroianni, an Obama appointee, criticized Ludlow Public Schools officials for allegedly hiding the pair of siblings’ gender transitions from their parents, but he said the officials’ actions do not “shock the conscience.”
“While the court is apprehensive about the alleged policy and actions of the Ludlow Public Schools with regard to parental notification, it cannot conclude the decision to withhold information” about the children from their parents meets the conscience-shocking legal standard in Massachusetts, the judge wrote in his December 14 ruling.
Back in April, parents Stephen Foote and Marissa Silvestri filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts federal court against staff members at Paul R. Baird Middle School, as well as the elected school committee, and the town of Ludlow just east of Springfield, Massachusetts.
School officials “impermissibly inserted themselves into the private realm” of their family, violating their “rights to make decisions regarding their children’s upbringing, mental health, and well-being,” the parents wrote in their suit.
The parents claimed that school officials failed to inform them that their two children, an 11-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy, were transitioning to a gender other than the one corresponding to their biological sex.
The 11-year-old girl allegedly emailed school staff in February 2021 and announced that she wanted to go by a cluster of new pronouns.
“I am genderqueer. … My new name will be R**** … If you deadname me or use any pronouns I am uncomfortable with I will politely tell you … A list of pronouns you can use are: she/her he/him they/them fae/faerae/aer ve/ver xe/xem ze/zir. … Please only use the ones I have listed and not the other ones. I do not like them,” the girl wrote, her parents said in court documents.
Afterward, a school counselor allegedly sent an email to staff ordering them not to tell her parents about the gender identity change.
“R**** [B****] is still in the process of telling his parents and is requesting that school staff refer to him as B**** and use she/her pronouns with her parents and in written emails/letters home,” the counselor wrote, according to the parents.
Meanwhile, the girl’s 12-year-old brother asked school staff to use female pronouns for him, and staff hid that information from his parents, the parents claimed.
The parents also said in court filings that they had previously even asked school staff not to have private conversations with their children about gender. However, they discovered that the superintendent, principal, guidance counselor, and teachers all ignored that request and were using the children’s new pronouns.
Later, the school even fired a teacher, Bonnie Manchester, 48, for telling the girl’s dad that she was transitioning to “genderqueer.”
In his ruling earlier this month throwing out the parents’ lawsuit, Mastroianni pointed to the requirement in Massachusetts for school officials not to discriminate against students on the basis of gender identity.
He also cited “the difficulties this issue presents and the competing interests involved.”