The parents of a Florida teenager have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit after their daughter’s school directed their child to pursue a gender transition without notifying them.
January and Jeffrey Littlejohn of Tallahassee, Florida, filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida last month, seeking to “vindicate their fundamental rights to direct the upbringing of their children” after Deerlake Middle School, where their 13-year-old daughter was enrolled, failed to notify them that their daughter had entered a school-sanctioned gender transition plan.
The lawsuit, which names the school superintendent, the assistant superintendent, and the Leon County School Board as defendants, says the Littlejohns’ daughter informed them during the COVID-19 lockdown in spring 2020 that “she was confused about her gender and believed she might be non-binary.”
The Littlejohns’ daughter, who is referred to as A.G. in court filings, “asked her parents to permit her to change her name to ‘J.’ and to use ‘they/them’ pronouns” as the 2020-2021 school year approached, the lawsuit says.
Her parents declined but told her she could use the “J” name in school as a nickname.
“We didn’t think it was in the best interests of our child,” January Littlejohn told the Washington Examiner in an interview. But, she went on, “we didn’t feel like we would stop her friends from calling her a different name.”
The lawsuit says the Littlejohns informed their daughter’s math teacher, Rima Kelly, about the teenager’s gender dysphoria and continued treatment with a mental health counselor on Aug. 27, 2020.
Kelly offered to inform the school about their daughter’s desires to identify as nonbinary, which the parents declined. The teacher is not a named defendant in the case.
A couple of weeks later, on Sept. 14, while she was getting into the car, the Littlejohns’ daughter mentioned that the school had asked her which bathroom she wanted to use, which the lawsuit says she thought was “funny.”
January Littlejohn told the Washington Examiner that was the first time she became aware that the school was meeting with her daughter and assisting the teenager in embracing a different gender identity in school settings. The school did not facilitate any transition-related medical procedures.
The school claimed nondiscrimination law barred them from informing the parents about the meeting with their daughter, which occurred on Sept. 8, 2020, unless the child authorized them to be there.