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Three Pennsylvania parents filed a federal lawsuit last week alleging that their children’s first-grade teacher violated district policy, state law and the Constitution by teaching children about gender dysphoria and transgender transitioning.
The suit, filed by mothers Carmilla Tatel, Stacy Dunn and Gretchen Melton against the Mount Lebanon School District, seeks a court order to stop the gender-related instruction at Jefferson Elementary School in Pittsburgh, or else provide parents the option to opt their children out of it.
It also seeks a jury trial in federal court to decide compensating and punitive financial damages.
In addition to the district, the suit names the district’s superintendent and school board, as well as first-grade teacher Megan Williams. It also names other school officials and an elementary school principal.
The mothers allege Williams did not respect their parental rights with her “direct classroom instruction” on gender dysphoria and use of books on the subject.
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The lawsuit points out the “unique perspectives and views” that Williams might have as the mother of a transgender child who is the same age as her students, but noted that such a fact “does not give her the right to impose those views on a captive audience of six- and seven-year-old children.”
“Williams also began the process of interjecting her own personal life and views into the classroom, explaining that her child had worn an ‘Elsa dress’ for Halloween,” the complaint also said, alleging that Williams “explained to her students that sometimes ‘parents are wrong’ and parents and doctors ‘make mistakes’ when they bring a child home from the hospital.”
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The lawsuit also claims that the district violated its own polices by not listing gender dysphoria and transgender transitioning as part of the curriculum online and also alleges that parents were not given the opportunity to excuse their children from such instruction if it does not conform with how they would like to broach such topics.
It also noted how the district previously allowed parents such leeway when approaching sensitive topics such as the Holocaust, slavery, the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Black Lives Matter.
Emphasizing that the plaintiffs have both family and friends in the LGBT community and have been intimately involved with diversity efforts in their own workplaces, the suit pushed back against any who would attempt to dismiss the complaint as political.
“This lawsuit is not about politics. It is not anti-transgender. It is not about censorship. It is not about banning books. It is not about precluding appropriate DEI initiatives,” the suit reads. “Rather, it is about Plaintiffs’ parental rights and each of their respective decisions not to want their six- or seven-year-old child to receive first-grade classroom instruction on gender dysphoria or transgender transitioning from their first-grade teacher.”
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Williams did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
District spokesperson Kristen James said in a statement that the complaint contains “allegations that are untrue or based on partial truths that mischaracterize events for sensational effect,” and that the district “looks forward to the opportunity to set the record straight,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.