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Our daughter’s school tried to socially transition her in secret. We’re taking a stand

OpinionOur daughter’s school tried to socially transition her in secret. We’re taking a stand

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Middle school was a tough time for our daughter. She was struggling with classwork, friendships and even a sense of her own identity. 

Like any loving parents, my wife and I were concerned. We worked closely with her teachers and other school officials to understand her challenges and help her work through them.

What we didn’t know was that these same people were lying to us – deliberately withholding key information and misleading us about things going on with our daughter. 

Dan and Jennifer Mead

Dan and Jennifer Mead (Courtesy of Alliance Defending Freedom)

The people we considered partners in our efforts had, months earlier, decided to socially transition our daughter, using a boy’s name and male pronouns with her at school without our knowledge or consent. They hid their actions by referring to her only by her real name when talking to us and carefully removing any reference to a male identity in records they shared with us.

MY 11-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER’S SCHOOL PLANNED ON HAVING HER SHARE A BED WITH MALE STUDENT

It took a foul-up in the school’s paperwork (a male name left in a document) to reveal what was happening. Once we had the whole picture, we could finally help our daughter with the issues she was struggling with. Because of that, today she’s doing remarkably well, at peace with herself and her identity.

But if this could happen to our child, how many other parents have no idea what school officials are pouring into the minds of their sons and daughters? 

That’s why we chose to file suit through our attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom against the Rockford Public School District for their employees’ actions and to challenge the policies that prompted their lies to us. 

When we confronted these officials about their actions, they stood by them. Now, we expect to hear back from them regarding our lawsuit by Feb. 8. We couldn’t stay silent and let the same thing happen to someone else.

Over the last few weeks, a lot has been said about our lawsuit. Some sources seem to want to divert public attention away from the school’s responsibility to parents. Other reports seem designed to distract the public with oversimplified reporting or implied opinions about us personally. So, I’d like to share our reasoning regarding the action we have taken.

TRANSGENDER NOTIFICATION POLICIES ‘DISTRACT,’ ‘BREAK DOWN’ TRUST BETWEEN PARENTS AND TEACHERS, ADVOCATE SAYS

Regardless of where you stand on the specifics of what the school district was hiding from us, everyone should be concerned by this deliberate effort to keep parents in the dark. Because when school district policies allow – or even require – lying to parents, it’s our kids who get hurt.

In our case, the district’s policy not only required employees to remain silent about significantly important information regarding our daughter but actually encouraged those employees to alter official records, concealing the district’s actions from us and furthering the deception. Even the policy itself was hidden from parents and taxpayers.

No school district should be making important decisions on behalf of parents, much less concealing those decisions from them. Parents know their children better than anyone and have the constitutional right and moral responsibility to direct their children’s upbringing, education, and health care. 

The district’s policy disregards this fundamental right – and, in doing so, hurt our daughter at a time when she needed her parents’ help.

FEDERAL APPEALS COURT RULES SCHOOL DISTRICT CAN CONTINUE TO KEEP STUDENT GENDER TRANSITIONS FROM PARENTS

Rather than override parents to press their own ideology on children, school officials should partner with us in helping our kids. Instead, many school employees are being told by their superintendents, school boards and teachers unions that parents have no rights when it comes to what happens to their children at school. That’s an idea that runs not just against parents’ wishes but the law.

If these policies are being enacted in your school district, you have the legal right to take a stand – either voting against the policies in the next election or demanding their removal. Changing these policies takes more than a few voices; it takes a whole community, willing to stand together.

Of course, taking this stand in the public arena isn’t easy. It’s easier to turn a blind eye, trusting the circumstances won’t affect you directly. We didn’t think this could happen in our school district, and certainly never to us. If the school hadn’t made a mistake, staff there would still be deceiving us. Sooner or later, those deceptions affect us all.

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We could have just pulled our daughter out of school and kept what happened to ourselves. But, while we want to see justice for her and our family, we also want to alert parents and individuals everywhere to what’s happening – and give courage to others who are struggling with these problems, trying to make a difference.

Many have spoken out in public or private to support us. While we can’t always respond to every comment, please know that we hear you. We can’t express enough how much your solidarity means to us. This is a time for standing together – for our rights as parents, and for the health, safety, and future of our children.

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Dan Mead is an artist and parent in Rockford, Michigan.

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