Parents Allege a Massachusetts Middle School Carried Out Secret Gender Transitions on Children

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Posted: Apr 19, 2022 1:15 PM
Parents Allege a Massachusetts Middle School Carried Out Secret Gender Transitions on Children

Source: AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File

Parents in Massachusetts are suing their kids' school alleging that teachers and staff encouraged students to change their pronouns and names without parents’ knowledge or consent.

According to the lawsuit, parents claim that Ludlow Public Schools had a “protocol and practice of concealing from parents information related to their children’s gender identity” in middle school. 

“[Efforts] to affirm a discordant student gender identity at school violates parents’ fundamental rights under the United States and Massachusetts constitutions and violates children’s reciprocal rights to the care and custody of their parents, familial privacy, and integrity,” the lawsuit reads. It was filed in a Massachusetts federal district court.

In the lawsuit, parents Stephen Foote and Marissa Silvestri claim that a teacher at the school shared concerns that their 11-year-old daughter, “B.F.,” was struggling with self-image and had low self-esteem. Silvestri was "grateful" the teacher had contacted her. The parents then sent an email to the school asking employees to refrain from private conversations with their daughter and explaining they would get her the help she needs. The parents believe the school disregarded their instructions.

In the lawsuit, Foote and Silverstri claim that their daughter “changed her preferred name at least twice since December 2020 without Plaintiff’s knowledge or consent, and to this date they [school staff] continue to address B.F. by whatever iteration of her name she has indicated she prefers.” 

In addition, in 2019, B.F. was given a classroom assignment where students were asked to create videos including their gender and preferred pronouns. Allegedly, parents were not informed of the assignment and did not know who was allowed to view the videos.

“On or about September 2019, Defendant Jordan Funke instructed incoming sixth grade students at Baird Middle School to create videos and to include in the videos their gender identity and preferred pronouns. Plaintiffs Foote’s and Silvestri’s 11-year-old daughter, B.F. was among the students given that assignment. The videos of their children were created without the parents’ knowledge or consent and it remains unknown how these videos were used or who was allowed to view them,” the lawsuit noted.

In 2021, B.F. sent an email to her teachers and other school staff stating that she was “genderqueer” and listed her preferred pronouns, which included “he/him,” and a new preferred name. The teacher from the school who previously called Silvestri over B.F.'s mental health allegedly sent a copy of the email to both her parents and was placed on administrative leave shortly thereafter.

Another set of parents, Jonathan Feliciano and Sandra Salmeron, who also joined the lawsuit, claim that they “are deliberately hindered from ascertaining whether their children are being secretly counseled about and affirmed in discordant gender identities without their knowledge or consent.”

The parents in the lawsuit added that then-superintendent of the school, Todd Gazda, “stated publicly, without refutation from the School Committee, that parents’ concerns amounted to ‘intolerance of LGBT people thinly veiled’ behind a ‘camouflage of parental rights.’ Defendant Gazda further stated that schools, not homes, are the true ‘safe space’ for children because schools supply ‘caring adults’ where students can discuss problems and find support for their ‘true identities,’ implying that children do not receive such care from their parents.”

The lawsuit was prepared and filed on behalf of two organizations, the Child and Parental Rights Campaign and the Massachusetts Family Institute.

Vernadettte Broyles, president and general counsel of the Child and Parental Rights Campaign said in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation that “school officials are making decisions about the lives of children that they are not qualified or authorized to make and doing it without telling, and often deceiving, parents.”