Frequently Searched

Florida School Hides Child’s ‘Gender Transition’—Goldwater Stands Up for Parents

May 31, 2023

A Florida mom and dad were shocked to find out that officials at their 13-year-old daughter’s middle school had secretly met with the teen and developed a plan for how to recognize her asserted gender identity. Now the parents are suing the School Board of Leon County in federal court for keeping them in the dark, and the Goldwater Institute filed a brief yesterday in support of their constitutionally protected parental rights.

Under the plan developed by Leon County Schools, January and Jeffrey Littlejohn’s daughter—who asserted a gender identity that differed from her biological sex—would be referred to by a new name and new pronouns, and would use the restroom that matched her gender identity.

The school told the child’s parents none of this. That was no accident, nor was it the result of reasoned decision-making based on the circumstances of this specific situation. Instead, the school acted in accordance with a blanket policy that prohibits officials from telling parents that their child is asserting a gender identity different from their biological sex. The policy therefore mandates not just silence, but active concealment, requiring school officials to take affirmative steps to hide vitally essential information from parents.

That’s unacceptable, immoral, and unconstitutional. As the Goldwater Institute notes in its amicus brief filed in the Eleventh Circuit, the Supreme Court has consistently—for the last century—held that parents have a fundamental right to control and direct the education, upbringing, and healthcare decisions of their children. But parents cannot exercise this right if the government hides vital information about their kids from them, because they cannot meaningfully decide what school is best for their children.

In fact, the Supreme Court has made it clear time and again that parental rights are broad and tolerate only those intrusions that are completely necessary to protect the health and safety of children, like laws against child labor.

But across the country, “woke” educators think they know better than parents. Even the New York Times recently admitted that schools are encouraging student gender transitions “without parental consent,” and that “parents of all political persuasions have found themselves unsettled by what schools know and don’t reveal.”

Schools are putting themselves between parents and children, attempting to replace parents as the primary raisers of their children.

The Littlejohns’ situation draws parallels to a similar case in Maine, where Goldwater is standing up for Amber Lavigne’s parental rights after public school officials purposefully concealed information about her 13-year-old daughter’s gender identity. School officials not only hid the fact that Amber’s daughter asked to be referred to by a different name and pronouns, but they also defended a school social worker who gave the child a chest binder and encouraged her not to tell her parents.

What happened in Florida also brings to mind a case in Massachusetts, where parents are suing a middle school over its policy mandating that teachers conceal information about their children asserting a gender identity that differs from their biological sex. Goldwater filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the First Circuit in support of those parents, arguing that the Constitution requires that school officials to inform parents of any decision that directly affects the mental health or physical well-being of their children.

Public school secrecy goes beyond gender transitions, too. In states like Rhode Island and Texas, Goldwater is helping concerned parents get the answers they deserve after school districts charged them thousands of dollars in public records fees to find out what’s going on in their kids’ schools.

Whether it is matters of health or questions about their children’s curriculum, public school districts should never hide things from parents. That is why the Goldwater Institute is fighting to empower moms and dads, not activist educators, to make decisions that best meet their children’s needs.

You can read Goldwater’s brief here.

Adam Shelton is a Staff Attorney at the Goldwater Institute.



More on this issue

Donate Now

Help all Americans live freer, happier lives. Join the Goldwater Institute as we defend and strengthen freedom in all 50 states.

Donate Now

Since 1988, the Goldwater Institute has been in the liberty business — defending and promoting freedom, and achieving more than 400 victories in all 50 states. Donate today to help support our mission.

We Protect Your Rights

Our attorneys defend individual rights and protect those who cannot protect themselves.

Need Help? Submit a case.

Get Connected to Goldwater

Sign up for the latest news, event updates, and more.