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In the wake of his daughter’s suicide attempt, a father is now suing an elementary school, alleging that teachers had been pushing her towards it by having secret meetings for months, pushing trans ideology on the girl.
When the 12-year-old daughter (whose name was name withheld due to age) of Wendell Perez tried to hang herself in her school bathroom, the distraught father immediately wanted to know what could cause a child to do such a thing. What he uncovered sent ripples through the culture wars over education playing out across the nation, and prompted him to file a lawsuit against Clay County school district, naming several teachers in the lawsuit as complicit in a gross violation of parents’ rights.
According to the court complaint, obtained by Daily Mail, Destiney Washington, a counselor at Paterson Elementary School in Fleming Island, Florida, was holding weekly meetings in secret with Perez’s daughter about an alleged “gender identity crisis.” Allegedly, Principal John O’Brian, Assistant Principal Courtney Schumacher, and district Superintendent Davis Broskie (all of whom are named as defendants in the lawsuit) were all in the know – but Perez himself wasn’t.
Perez, who is Catholic, alleged that the counselor cited his faith as a reason to withhold information about the daughter’s mental state and the weekly meetings. Meanwhile, the school staff had the daughter take a new “secret name,” and had other students refer to the daughter as a boy and by this new name, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit alleges that the daughter was increasingly bullied because of these changes and that this bullying reached such levels of emotional distress that the girl attempted to take her life on both January 4th and 5th. As of writing, there is no information on whether the father was even informed of the attempt on January 4th.
The cause was taken up by the Child & Parental Rights Campaign, and Attorney Vernadette Broyles is representing the Perez family. Broyles made it clear in statements to Action News Jax that the lawsuit was more than just righting the alleged wrong done to the Perez family, but pushing back against the idea that it is acceptable for schools anywhere to arrogate child rearing and such core medical and mental decisions about a child to themselves:
“[the lawsuit aims to] protect the rights of parents to be able to raise their children, to direct the care of their child, in accordance with their faith and without the interference of government officials. It is a serious mental health decision that school personnel are not qualified, not competent, and not authorized to make. Parents must be involved in these important decisions.”
The fight may be surprisingly difficult, however, since one Jacksonville counselor asserted to Action News Jax that under current law the school does not need to inform parents about a child’s counseling sessions until the child “presents a danger of harming themselves or others.” The school itself denied that any wrongdoing alleged in the lawsuit had taken place: “We performed an investigation into these allegations and believe the statements made by this out-of-state organization invalid.”
The question of the legality of withholding such critical mental health information from a parent may soon be clarified, however. Florida’s legislature is currently debating House Bill 1557, aka the Parental Rights in Education bill, which would require school boards to keep parents in the loop about certain information regarding a child’s emotional, physical, or mental well-being. Classroom conversations on sexual orientation and gender would also be curtailed under the bill.
Given the fights playing out in the rest of the country over parents versus the education bureaucracy, such as in Virginia (and Loudoun County in particular), a long and bitterly contentious battle in court and in the statehouse is probably in the making.
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