Federal Court Rules Christian Teachers Can't Be Forced to Lie to Parents About Kids' Gender Confusion
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A federal judge has ruled in favor of two Christian teachers who refused to uphold their school's policy that required staff to lie to parents and hide students' gender confusion.
U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez issued a preliminary injunction that protects two Christian middle school teachers who challenged San Diego County's Escondido Unified School District's (USD) policy.
The teachers argued that the "secrecy policy" infringed on their First Amendment Free Speech and Free Exercise of religion rights, and if they were to comply and be dishonest with parents it would violate their "sincerely held religious beliefs."
Although Judge Benitez issued an injunction that only temporarily blocks the policy from being enacted, he wrote that the policy appears to undermine constitutional rights calling it a "trifecta of harm."
"It harms the child who needs parental guidance and possibly mental health intervention to determine if the incongruence is organic or whether it is the result of bullying, peer pressure, or a fleeting impulse," Benitez explained. "It harms the parents by depriving them of the long-recognized Fourteenth Amendment right to care, guide, and make health care decisions for their children. And finally, it harms plaintiffs who are compelled to violate the parent's rights by forcing plaintiffs to conceal information they feel is critical for the welfare of their students — violating plaintiffs' religious beliefs."
He also noted the teachers "face an unlawful choice along the lines of: 'lose your faith and keep your job, or keep your faith and lose your job.'"
Benitez made it clear that school districts who insist that the child's right to privacy is greater than the rights of parents are "mistaken" and the "Constitution neither mandates nor tolerates that kind of discrimination."
Currently, there are more than 1,000 school districts that have adopted policies that aim to keep parents in the dark about any change in their child's gender-related behavior.
The policies span 37 states covering more than 18,000 schools with nearly 11 million children enrolled, according to Parents Defending Education.
"Requiring teachers to be dishonest in the course of their job is an unconscionable situation. The First Amendment prohibits forcing someone to lie. Moreover, parents have the right to direct the upbringing of their children," said Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver in a statement.
As CBN News reported, only six California school districts have voted in favor of policies that would require teachers to notify parents if their child changes their gender identification.
Chino Valley Unified School District in San Bernardino was the first district in the state to adopt such a policy.
However, California State Attorney General Rob Bonta sued the district in August to block the policy and was granted a temporary restraining order.
California State Judge Thomas Garza ruled that the school district must hold off on enforcing its new policy that would not only require schools to notify parents if their children change their gender identity, but also would require schools to notify parents if a child is suicidal, is a victim of bullying, or gets seriously injured.
Chino Valley Board President Sonja Shaw, who has received death threats over this policy, argues that "parents have a right to know what is going on at school and not be the last person informed."
Meanwhile, California Family Council President Jonathan Keller called that ruling a "temporary setback in the ongoing struggle to affirm parents' God-given and constitutionally protected right to direct the upbringing and education of their children."
The state court's ruling blocks the policy until an October 13 hearing to determine whether to allow or permanently block the policy. It's unclear how the federal court's ruling will impact the case.
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