California Mom Who Claimed School Coerced Her Kid to Be Trans Wins $100K Settlement

Author: Trudy Ring

A school district in north-central California has agreed to pay $100,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a mother who claimed school officials convinced her child to identify as bisexual and transgender and concealed the information from her.

The Spreckels Union School District agreed to the settlement with Jessica Konen in June, and a federal judge approved it in July, NBC News reports. Under the terms, the district denies any wrongdoing. The judge dismissed the suit “with prejudice,” which means it cannot be refiled.

Konen filed the suit in June 2022 in Monterey County Superior Court, and it was transferred to the U.S. District Court for Northern California three months later. Besides the school district, defendants included the principal and two teachers at Buena Vista Middle School in Salinas. Konen’s child attended the school from the fall of 2018 until the spring of 2021.

In 2018, a friend invited the child to a meeting of the Equality Club, a group for LGBTQ+ students and allies. Konen’s suit alleged that the club would “introduce and push identities on students, and the students resisted.” When Konen’s offspring went to a school counselor about depression and stress the following spring, the counselor and a teacher who advised the Equality Club said those problems were due to “not being who she was,” according to the suit.

They encouraged the student to wear boys’ clothes and adopt a male name and pronouns but “not to tell her mother about her new gender identity or new name, saying that her mother might not be supportive of her and that she couldn’t trust her mother,” the suit said. Eventually, the principal and a teacher called Konen in and told her about the matter. She was “taken aback,” the suit claimed.

After the school shut down in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and students received instruction remotely, Konen’s child returned to identifying as female and continued to do so in a new district when in-person schooling returned in the fall of 2021, according to the suit. But the student remained “confused about issues relating to her sexuality and gender,” and the mother-child relationship was “seriously damaged,” the suit alleged.

However, “an independent investigation the school district commissioned by a law firm last year found that the teachers named in Konen’s lawsuit did not ‘coach’ students in changing their gender identities or deceive administrators or parents,” NBC reports.

Konen’s lawyers included Harmeet Dhillon, a member of the Republican National Committee who ran unsuccessfully for its chairmanship this year. She is also founder of the Center for American Liberty, a conservative legal nonprofit.

In a statement to NBC, Dhillon said, “Konen’s triumph strongly underscores the principle that parents, not schools, have a natural right to shape their child’s upbringing.” She continued, “This settlement sends a loud message to all school districts: attempting to secretly transition a child without parental notification or consent will lead to substantial repercussions.”

Officials with the Spreckels district and their attorneys did not respond to NBC’s requests for comment.

Several states and some individual school districts have adopted policies allowing or even forcing personnel to inform parents or guardians if a child comes out as transgender or anywhere under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. This can endanger young people if their families are not supportive.

This week, California Attorney General Rob Bonta sued the Chino Valley Unified School District over its policy of outing transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming students to their parents or guardians.

“Every student has the right to learn and thrive in a school environment that promotes safety, privacy, and inclusivity – regardless of their gender identity,” Bonta said in a press release. “We’re in court challenging Chino Valley Unified’s forced outing policy for wrongfully and unconstitutionally discriminating against and violating the privacy rights of LGBTQ+ students. The forced outing policy wrongfully endangers the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of nonconforming students who lack an accepting environment in the classroom and at home. Our message to Chino Valley Unified and all school districts in California is loud and clear: We will never stop fighting for the civil rights of LGBTQ+ students.”

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Trudy Ring

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