California mom Jessica Konen won a $100,000 settlement from her daughter’s school district, Spreckels Union School District, after Buena Vista Middle School had socially transitioned her 11-year-old daughter, Alicia, without her knowledge or consent. The school district still refuses to admit that it’s at fault.
Many are calling this a landmark case, saying it will make other school districts across the country think twice before transitioning kids behind their parents’ backs.
Meg Kilgannon, Family Research Council’s senior fellow for education studies, told The Washington Stand, “This is a great development in the overall move to stop mistreating children based on gender identity declarations at school. When California is debating the issue of whether or not to inform parents if their child makes a declaration or is accommodated as the opposite sex, this is also timely.”
At the beginning of her sixth-grade year, a friend invited Alicia to the school’s Equality Club, headed by two seventh-grade teachers, Lois Caldeira and Kelly Baraki. While there, the teachers told her that she was bisexual and later on identified her as transexual. (Alicia wasn’t sure what either of those terms meant, but trusted the teachers, was given more material to read, and believed them.)
Later, in the spring, Alicia went to the school counselor because she was depressed and stressed. She had weekly meetings with the counselor as well as Caldeira and the principal. Alicia was informed that she was depressed and stressed because she was “not being who she was” and that if she became her “true self,” she would get better.
According to the legal complaint, Caldeira and Baraki identified students for the school’s Equality Club “based on comments students made to them, comments that they overheard students make to others, and their own observations of students in the classroom setting, and otherwise. Once they identified students for the club, Caldeira and Baraki would invite them to participate.”
In a leaked recording from a 2021 California Teachers Association conference, these teachers discussed how they kept meetings private and “stalked” students online for recruits.
“When we were doing our virtual learning—we totally stalked what they were doing on Google, when they weren’t doing school work,” Baraki admitted. “One of them was googling ‘Trans Day of Visibility.’ And we’re like, ‘Check.’ We’re going to invite that kid when we get back on campus.”
Spreckels Union School District adopted a “Parental Secrecy Policy,” ensuring that staff at Buena Vista would “conceal from parents that their minor children had articulated confusion about their gender identity, evinced a desire to change their gender identity, or assumed or expressed a new gender identity, unless the student expressly authorized the parents to be informed.”
Remarkably, Spreckels Union would “intentionally deceive parents regarding students’ new gender identity and expression by, among other things, not publishing the Parental Secrecy Policy on the Spreckels Union website, using students’ birth names and pronouns in communications with parents despite using students’ new names and pronouns when parents were not there, instructing students they were not to tell their parents about their new gender identity or expression because their parents ‘couldn’t be trusted,’ and otherwise concealing those facts from parents.”
Devastatingly, the school’s actions drove a wedge between Konen and Alicia.
These are tactics promoted and encouraged by teachers unions such as the California Teachers Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and the National Education Association, as well as the union for school counselors, the American School Counselor Association.
They result from common attitudes among the education establishment and others on the political Left who view parents as potential threats to their own children if they don’t accept LGBTQ ideology.
For example, Peter Renn, an attorney for the LGBTQ legal organization Lambda Legal, said, “Outside of school, these students may similarly face potential hostility at home because of who they are. For example, involuntarily outing a student as LGBTQ to their parents can very well lead to them getting kicked out of the home in some circumstances.”
Thankfully, during Alicia’s eighth-grade year, she was learning at home due to COVID-19 school shutdowns. This is when, in Alicia’s words, she “ended up being out of control of the school” and figured out who she really was—a girl.
Now, five years after Alicia started being transitioned by her school, she and her mom have received counseling, and their relationship has been restored.
Konen and Alicia’s lawyer, Mark Trammel, are calling on parents across the country to be pro-active and realize that this is not just something that happens in California. He says that his office has likely received calls from parents in all 50 states who have gone through something similar to Konen’s situation.
Joseph Backholm, Family Research Council’s senior fellow for biblical worldview and strategic engagement, told The Washington Stand:
This situation is further evidence that many in the education system view parents as a threat to children. Parents need to be very careful about the environments and people they entrust their children to. There are a lot of ‘nice’ people who will do terrible things to you and your children.
Konen advises parents to be fully involved in their children’s lives; do their research on their school’s faculty, curriculum, and clubs; and listen to their intuition.
Backholm said, “I am encouraged by the result of this lawsuit, not only because it is appropriate under the circumstances, but because it will hopefully deter other schools from doing something similar in the future. When significant things are happening in a child’s life, parents need to be the first to know, not the last. Schools that do not believe that should quickly be reformed or cease to exist.”
Kilgannon agreed. “No one can ‘do over’ even one second of childhood, never mind the years that can be consumed by this evil and the irreparable harm that is done. Let’s celebrate this victory and remember it is but one battle in the ongoing war to protect children and parents.”
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