A public school teacher in San Diego, California, is claiming she was told to mislead parents “suspicious” about their children’s stated gender identities, and now she has filed a lawsuit against the school.
Elizabeth Mirabelli, a 25-year veteran of the school system, told Fox News it’s “unfortunate” she feels compelled to go to bat against Rincon Middle School in Escondido, telling the network, “This is a community of people I care about, people I’ve served for a long period of time. And so that gives me pause to have to stand up, but I felt that I had to make that choice.”
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Mirabelli is joined in her lawsuit by fellow veteran teacher Lori Ann West. The two educators are claiming in their filing against school leadership that they were essentially told to lie to parents whose children have assumed gender and sexual identities incongruent with their biology.
In their lawsuit, the teachers claim the school district’s policy violates their First Amendment rights.
The complaint, filed by the Catholic law firm the Thomas More Society, states both West and Mirabelli sought and were ultimately denied religious accommodations that would have exempted them from having to comply with the school district’s policy, which, in addition to concealing information from parents, required educators to use students’ preferred pronouns, regardless of their biological makeup.
“Faced with EUSD’s immoral policies deceiving parents, both Mrs. Mirabelli and Mrs. West sought an accommodation that would allow them to act in the best interests of the children in their care — as required by their moral and religious convictions,” the court filing stated. “Both Mrs. Mirabelli and Mrs. West consider it a moral and religious duty to provide such care for every child in their charge, regardless of personal differences.”
The suit went on to characterize the school’s policy as “both dangerous for the students in their care and unconstitutional.” The teachers are claiming they had been instructed by district administrators to refer to children by their preferred names and pronouns and revert back to their given names and pronouns when communicating with parents.
As Fox reported, a transcript from a training session Feb. 3, 2022, revealed teachers were told that students’ “assertion is enough” to determine their selected gender identities and failure to comply with children’s choices would be considered harassment. The training also stated there is “no requirement for parent or caretaker agreement or even for knowledge for us to begin treating that student consistent with their gender identity.”
“The policies endanger the children in EUSD’s care through recklessly disregarding or ignoring the real harm that can occur through transitioning to another gender during childhood, while removing the key parental oversight that could protect the mental and physical wellbeing of EUSD’s students,” it added.
Mirabelli, for her part, told Fox, “I think we all know quite readily that lying is not something that you want to do, and it’s certainly not something you want to teach to children. If I’m telling a child, ‘Yes, sweetheart, you can have a whole persona here at school, but we’re not going to tell your parents,’ what does that teach a child?”
In a statement, Escondido Union School District Superintendent Dr. Luis A. Rankins-Ibarra said, “The Escondido Union School District is committed to providing a safe and positive environment that enables our students to learn and actualize their unlimited potential and that empowers our teachers to excel as educators. As part of that commitment to student learning, the district observes all federal and state laws.”
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