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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Parents feel 'villainized' by teachers who think they know best

It's not just conservative parents who think they have a right to know if "Hannah" has become "Hank" at school, reports Katie J.M. Baker in the New York Times. Liberal parents think they know best about their children's psychological and emotional needs.

Photo: Kindel Media/Pexels

Jessica Bradshaw's daughter -- now a son -- was diagnosed as on the autism spectrum, as well as with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, PTSD and anxiety, the California mother told Baker. Her teenager "had struggled with loneliness during the pandemic" and "repeatedly changed his name and sexual orientation." School officials had put her child "on a path the school wasn’t qualified to oversee," rather than let the family decide what was best, Bradshaw said. She resents being made to feel like a bad parent.

. . . dozens of parents whose children have socially transitioned at school told The Times they felt villainized by educators who seemed to think that they — not the parents — knew what was best for their children. They insisted that educators should not intervene without notifying parents unless there is evidence of physical abuse at home. Although some didn’t want their children to transition at all, others said they were open to it, but felt schools forced the process to move too quickly, and that they couldn’t raise concerns without being cut out completely or having their home labeled “unsafe.”

The reporter visited a support group for "skeptical" parents of transgender teenagers who felt ignored by their children's schools. "Most said their children had mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder, or autism," writes Baker.

Teenagers identifying as transgender and non-binary are much more likely to be neurodivergent, writes Abigail Shrier, author of Irreversible Damage, in City Journal. "As several autism experts have explained to me, those on the spectrum tend to fixate, and when a contagious idea is introduced to them — such as the notion that they might be a 'girl in a boy’s body' — they are particularly susceptible to it."

Parents are filing lawsuits challenging school policies they say violate their parental rights, notes Baker. Erica Anderson, a clinical psychologist who has counseled children on gender identity and is transgender herself, supported parents in an amicus brief in a Maryland lawsuit. Transitioning socially, Dr. Anderson wrote, “is a major and potentially life-altering decision that requires parental involvement, for many reasons.”

It's Wrong commented on the New York Times story:

I teach at a middle school in Bergen County, NJ. This year, the teachers in my school were specifically instructed not to tell parents if their kids start using a new name or ask to be referred to with non-sex-based pronouns or use the opposite-sex bathroom. After 15 years of never having a trans-identified kid in my classroom, I’ve had several just in the last couple of years. All were girls and all had serious mental health issues.
. . . I am certain that these girls’ mental health issues are the cause of their trans identities, not the effect. The number of trans-identifying kids has exploded. If trans people were simply coming out in greater numbers now because it’s now safer, we’d see kids of both sexes coming out, not mainly girls. And we’d see people of all ages coming out, not mainly teens and pre-teens. Social contagion of psychological symptoms among adolescent girls is a real phenomenon — DID and Tourette’s on TikTok today, bulimia and anorexia in the 80s and 90s, Beatlemania-style fainting in the 1960s, “hysterical” disorders of the early 20th century — all the way back to the supposed possession of the Salem witch trials. We teachers are hiding important information about kids’ mental health from their parents. That’s wrong. Parents have a right to know.

"Some states, such as California, New Jersey, and Maryland, expressly advise schools not to disclose information about students’ gender identity without their permission," writes Baker. Others, such as Florida, Alabama and Virginia, ban schools from withholding information about gender identity from parents.

In California, the mother of a fifth-grader has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit charging her rights as a parent were violated when the school socially "transitioned" her child without telling her.

Wisconsin parents are suing to block the Eau Claire district's policy of not informing parents when their children change their gender identity at school. The suit "included a photo of a teacher’s flyer posted at school that stated: 'If your parents aren’t accepting of your identity, I’m your mom now',” writes Baker.

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