A New York woman is suing a local school district, alleging officials began treating her middle-school daughter as a boy without her knowledge or consent, and at the same time, hiding it from her.
Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a nonprofit religious rights law firm, are representing Jennifer Vitsaxaki. They filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the Skaneateles Central School District and the Skaneateles Central Schools’ Board of Education for its employees’ actions.
According to the complaint, Vitsaxaki had contacted the school when her daughter began struggling with anxiety and depression. She repeatedly asked school employees if they had noticed anything troubling her daughter. She was repeatedly reassured her daughter was fine.
However, while school officials kept telling Vitsaxaki that there was nothing to report, a school counselor was regularly meeting with her daughter and other girls who were the victims of ongoing bullying. The school district reportedly began treating Vitsaxaki’s daughter as if she were a boy, without telling her mother, just as it had done with several other girls in her grade, according to the lawsuit.
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ADF says the same counselor instructed school staff to treat Vitsaxaki’s daughter as though she were a boy by referring to her with a boy’s name and the third-person plural pronouns “they” and “them.”
Then, a school psychologist, who told school staff to keep their actions secret from the girl’s mother, reportedly began meeting with her daughter regularly without her knowledge. Yet no one informed Mrs. Vitsaxaki that the School District had made any of these decisions and taken all of these actions toward her daughter, the complaint said.
“For months, School District employees concealed this information about the well-being of Mrs. Vitsaxaki’s daughter—sensitive information about the girl’s struggles with gender,” the lawsuit said.
“Eventually, one staff member could no longer stomach the School District’s deception of Mrs. Vitsaxaki and urged the principal to come clean,” ADF attorneys wrote in the lawsuit. “When he finally did, Mrs. Vitsaxaki was shocked. She and her husband, Jane’s father, met with the School District. They directed the School District to stop taking any further action without their consent and sought open communication with the teachers to understand what had happened. But the principal told them School District policy required employees to deceive them, and despite assurances to the contrary, the deception continued.”
By socially transitioning Mrs. Vitsaxaki’s daughter without her consent and by concealing vital information about her daughter’s health and well-being, the district violated Mrs. Vitsaxaki’s fundamental parental rights and her deeply held religious beliefs, the ADF said. The nonprofit law firm noted the U.S. Constitution protects her right as a parent to make decisions about the upbringing, education, and health care of her children.
“Parents, not the government, have the right to direct the upbringing, education, and health care of their children,” ADF Senior Counsel Kate Anderson, director of ADF’s Center for Parental Rights, said in a statement. “Parents should be able to drop their kids off at school without fear that school staff will conceal critical information or cut them out of weighty decisions with the potential for life-long impact on their kids.”
“The Skaneateles Central School District policy in this lawsuit betrays the trust of parents like Mrs. Vitsaxaki and violates their fundamental rights. Not only that, it violates Mrs. Vitsaxaki’s right to exercise her Christian faith by raising her daughter consistent with her sincerely held religious beliefs about human nature, gender, and identity, among other topics,” Anderson continued.
“Because school officials concealed their actions from Mrs. Vitsaxaki, they prevented her from helping her daughter at a time she needed her mother’s loving guidance most. Schools shouldn’t hide important information from parents like Mrs. Vitsaxaki,” she added.
ADF attorneys filed the lawsuit, Vitsaxaki v. Skaneateles Central School District, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, Syracuse Division.
CBN News has reached out to District Superintendent Eric Knuth for comment. We’ll post it here if we hear back.