CLAY COUNTY, Fla. (TND) — A lawsuit has been reportedly filed against a school district in Florida after parents say they discovered the school was "secretly meeting" with their 12-year-old daughter over her "gender identity."
According to WJAX News, the lawsuit claims the parents didn't learn about the alleged weekly meetings between the school's counselor and their daughter until after she tried to take her own life.
The Child & Parental Rights Campaign filed a lawsuit against the school district on Jan. 24. The organization’s president, Vernadette Broyles, spoke with WJAX News.
It is a serious mental health decision that school personnel are not qualified, not competent, and not authorized to make,” Broyles reportedly says. “Parents must be involved in these important decisions.
The news outlet also interviewed the father of the student involved, saying it withheld his name in an effort to protect his child's identity. The father reportedly received news of his daughter's suicide attempt on Jan. 5.
“It was a nightmare for us,” the father reportedly says, adding the guidance counselor claimed his daughter didn’t want to talk about her gender identity with her parents due to their Catholic faith. “I took offense because that had nothing to do with it. I mean I don’t even know if she understands our faith. That demonstrated she was ignorant about it. Our faith is one of unconditional love for our children.”
School leaders allegedly encouraged others to call the 12-year-old student a boy, along with giving her a new name, the lawsuit claims.
Clay County Schools reportedly responded to the claims by saying it performed its own investigation and found the allegations to be "invalid".
We performed an investigation into these allegations and believe the statements made by this out-of-state organization invalid," Clay County Schools reportedly says in its statement
Speaking with WJAX News, former Clay County school employee Richard Ceriello claims to have worked for the school district for decades, and whenever a student would open up about their LGBTQ+ identity, he would share the information with school counselors.
Over the years that I worked there, I did have students who would speak to me or imply that they were different from the other boys and girls, and I respected their privacy," Ceriello reportedly says. “The counselor would keep this information private of course unless the child chose to share that with the counselor and the family.
An LGBTQ+ advocate, Manny Velasquez-Paredez, tells WJAX News it's important to protect the children's right to speak with counselors in confidence.
“If the individual did not come out to their family, there’s a reason for that," Velasquez-Paredez reprotedly says.
Vernadette Broyles, the aforementioned Child & Parental Rights Campaign president, disagrees, saying the lawsuit was filed in part “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."