Another public school system has voted to hide mental health information about students from their parents. This time, however, parents are fighting back.
The Center for American Liberty has filed suit against the superintendent and school board members of the Chico Unified School District in Northern California on behalf of Chico parent Aurora Regino.
At an April 5 Chico Unified School Board meeting, Regino claimed that Chico Unified transitioned her daughter without her knowledge or consent. According to Regino, during a time of intense stress in which Regino’s father had died and she was battling breast cancer, her elementary school-age daughter sought help from a school “mental wellness” counselor.
Regino further claimed that her daughter, also known as A.S., told the counselor that she wanted to tell Regino about the counseling sessions and her struggles with her sexual identity—but the counselor ignored A.S. Regino stated that because Chico Unified kept her daughter’s struggles and mental health crisis from her, her daughter was left to face bullying and other trauma alone.
At this point during Regino’s statement, individuals who sat on either side of the aisle and wore pride flags behind Regino rolled their eyes.
Pro-LGBTQ+ protesters showed up en masse to the school board meeting in support of the hidden transgender policy. Lindsay Briggs, a professor of public health at California State University-Chico, posted a disturbing message on Twitter celebrating “So many beautiful, radical, queer babes” coming to Chico to support the board’s decision to keep the secretive policy. The image below the tweet depicts a woman aiming a pistol with the caption, “Not gay as in happy, but queer as in f— you.”
Briggs’ profile on Twitter depicts two fists with the caption “Queers Bash Back.”
Briggs led many of the pro-LGBTQ+ protesters in heckles and chants against concerned parents during the school board meeting. None of the school board members made an effort to maintain order or quiet down the hecklers.
Regino told the Center for American Liberty that the Chico Unified Board’s response underscores the need for the lawsuit:
I’m still in awe about what I saw last night and how the Board allowed people to heckle and bully parents who were speaking about the right to be involved in their own children’s lives. … This decision is devastating for parents not only here in our community but also across the country. The next step to fight back is legal action and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.Aurora Regino
Speaking to The Daily Signal, Jay Richards of The Heritage Foundation’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society pointed out a critical flaw in Chico Unified’s policy of keeping parents in the dark:
This policy turns education on its head. Rather than treating parents as holding the primary authority for teaching children, which they may delegate to a school, this policy makes the educational the primary arbiter of a child’s education, and the parents as potential threats to that authority. It’s deeply perverse.Dr. Jay Richards, The Heritage Foundation
Like Chico Unified, many schools across the country that have enacted secretive transgender policies at the expense of parental rights. A March investigation from Parents Defending Education reported that almost 9,000 schools across all 50 states have policies in which parents are kept in the dark if their child is struggling with transgender-related mental health issues.
Lindsey Burke, director of the Center for Education Policy at the Heritage Foundation, criticized the push to hide “sensitive issues” from parents amid the current academic performance crisis. She told The Daily Signal:
Instead of developing plots to keep parents in the dark about sensitive issues pertaining to their children in school, the board should focus on getting the district back to basics. But sadly, parents shouldn’t hold their breath. The district system has long been beholden to powerful teachers unions like the National Education Association, an anti-parent special interest group whose modus operandi is looking out for the adults in the system and shielding public schools from any meaningful accountability to families.Dr. Lindsey Burke, The Heritage Foundation
While many states are in the process of passing legislation that would forbid public school districts from keeping parents in the dark concerning their child’s mental health, California has not yet passed such a bill. Instead, it has enshrined the “right” of a 12-year-old to withhold gender identity information from parents.
For states lacking parental rights laws, lawsuits appear to be the only answer for many parents. The Center for American Liberty is attempting to fill that gap.
“The Chico Unified School Board’s decision to keep the parental secrecy policy in place is a slap in the face to every parent whose child is under their care,” said the Center for American Liberty’s CEO, Harmeet Dhillon. “It makes a mockery of fundamental, constitutionally protected, parental rights and puts every child’s safety at risk. If the Board won’t rescind this unconstitutional policy, our lawsuit will prompt the court to do it for them.”
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