FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—A New York school district socially transitioned a girl without her mother’s consent, repeatedly lying to the mother about the child’s mental health and social struggles, according to a new lawsuit.
Represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, Jennifer Vitsaxaki of New York filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Skaneateles Central School District and Board of Education, accusing them of violating her constitutional rights through their deception and their social transitioning of her 12-year-old daughter, Jane.
The Daily Signal first obtained the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York. Skaneateles, New York, where the school district is located, is about 22 miles southwest of Syracuse.
“Parents have the right to direct the upbringing and education of their kids, and they cannot fulfill those responsibilities when schools hide information from them and make critical decisions that can have lifelong consequences for their child,” said Kate Anderson, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom. “So, this case is important to ensure that all parents can have the information they need to do what’s best for their kids.”
Though Michael Vitsaxaki and Jennifer Vitsaxaki are both U.S. citizens, the Vitsaxaki family had spent almost a decade in Greece, where the Vitsaxaki parents were from, and Jane’s primary language was Greek. The family decided to leave Greece when its economy collapsed and they realized that they could not continue raising their children there, but the transition from their closely knit community in Greece to the U.S. was disruptive to the entire family’s lives.
Young Jane Vitsaxaki had to adapt to a “new culture, including learning to go through each day speaking primarily English instead of Greek,” and her father’s job required him to frequently travel out of the country.
The complaint states that Jennifer Vitsaxaki began to be increasingly concerned as her daughter was exhibiting signs of anxiety and depression and occasionally refusing to leave home. The mother repeatedly asked school district employees about whether they had noticed anything troubling her daughter, but was met with denials and assurances that her daughter was fine.
“Those repeated reassurances concealed the truth,” the complaint states. “While school officials kept telling Mrs. Vitsaxaki that there was nothing to report, a school counselor was regularly meeting with her daughter and her peers to address ongoing bullying suffered by … Jane, and other girls in the group.”
Worse than that, the complaint said, the district began treating Jane as though she were a boy—”just as it had done with several other girls in her grade.”
“The same counselor instructed school staff to treat Mrs. Vitsaxaki’s daughter as though she were a boy by referring to her with a boy’s name and the third-person plural pronouns ‘they’ and ‘them’—part of a controversial psychosocial intervention often called ‘social transition,'” the complaint states. “Then, a school psychologist, who told school staff to keep their actions secret from Mrs. Vitsaxaki, began meeting with Jane regularly without Mrs. Vitsaxaki’s knowledge.”
No one had told Jennifer Vitsaxaki that the district had made any of these decisions or taken these actions.
“School staff carefully used Jane’s given name and female pronouns when speaking with Mrs. Vitsaxaki, and they repeatedly said everything was fine, all the while treating Jane as a boy and sending her resources for medical transition behind Mrs. Vitsaxaki’s back,” her lawsuit says.
The district employees didn’t tell Vitsaxaki about any of this for months, the lawsuit alleges, and Jane’s mental condition worsened. She was resisting going to school and becoming increasingly anxious and negative.
“At one point, and at her daughter’s request, Mrs. Vitsaxaki even took a job as a bus driver to learn more about what could be causing her daughter’s distress,” the suit says.
Finally, a staff member “could no longer stomach” the deception and urged the principal to tell Jane’s mother.
“When [the principal] finally did, Mrs. Vitsaxaki was shocked,” the complaint says. “She and her husband, Jane’s father, met with representatives of the school district. They directed the school district to stop taking any further action without their consent and sought open communication with the teachers to understand what had happened.”
It continued: “But the principal told them school district policy required employees to deceive them, and despite assurances to the contrary, the deception continued. Left with no other options, Mrs. Vitsaxaki withdrew her daughter from the school district.”
Vitsaxaki’s lawsuit stresses that she has a fundamental right to direct the upbringing, education, and health care of her child, a right that is “inconsistent with the deceptive, heavy-handed, and disruptive intervention that the school district perpetrated against Mrs. Vitsaxaki’s daughter—an intervention that gravely interfered with her ability to raise her daughter and contradicted her religious beliefs.”
“Ultimately, parents—not school employees or other government officials—ought to decide how to resolve a child’s questions about sensitive topics like identity and gender confusion,” the complaint says. “Parents like Mrs. Vitsaxaki know their children better than anyone else. And parents, not school employees, will be there for a child in the long run, when the consequences of these decisions become fully apparent.”
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