The parents of a 12-year-old Florida girl who tried to hang herself twice at her school after ‘months of secret meetings about her gender identity’ slam district staff for allegedly going behind their backs and ‘creating a double life” for their daughter.
Wendell Perez and his wife Maria Perez allege that staff at Paterson Elementary School – where their daughter was enrolled – violated their parental rights by failing to inform them of the alleged gender identity crisis and developing a plan for her. to help deal with it without their consent.
“We are talking to school staff about this information and developing a plan of several sessions with my daughter, for months, talking about related issues that parents need to involve,” Wendell Perez told DailyMail.com on Thursday. . “They basically created a double life for my daughter.”
“We are not talking about an isolated incident that a small child mentioned something. They acted – they acted on it, for months. What is the next? If we let them, what’s the next step?
He also compared the behavior of staff to that of sex offenders, saying: ‘If we allow this to happen, we accept that sex offenders – the operating models of sex offenders – are right, because that is in fact what that they do. They take advantage of a child, they try to keep things a secret and make them do things they’re not supposed to do.
He added: “There should be no secrets. It’s a red flag. When there are secrets, it’s a red flag.
Perez said the lawsuit is intended to protect all parents from the violation of their constitutional rights.
“It’s about parental rights. It’s not about other issues. It’s about our constitutional rights and our rights under the laws of our state of Florida,” he said.
‘They were raped. Our fight for these rights will benefit all parents, whatever their race, whatever their religious beliefs, whatever their political affiliation. This will benefit everyone. Hopefully justice will be done.
The complaint alleges school counselor Destiney Washington held secret weekly meetings with Wendell Perez’s daughter about her alleged “gender identity crisis” but failed to alert her parents. He also claims that headteachers encouraged other students and staff to refer to the girl as a boy and even gave her a new name.
It is still unclear why the 12-year-old was seeing the counselor or how the gender identity meetings materialized.
Wendell Perez (left) and his wife Maria Perez (right), allege staff at Paterson Elementary School – where their daughter was enrolled – violated their parental rights by not telling them about the alleged identity crisis and developing a plan to help her address it without her consent
Lawyer Vernadette Broyles (pictured), who represents the Perez family, said the suit seeks ‘a declaratory judgment that the school’s actions were unlawful’ and ‘an injunction to change practices and policies’ She also noted that school officials are “neither competent nor authorized” to make decisions about a child’s welfare and “it is imperative that they involve parents immediately”.
Attorney Vernadette Broyles, of the Child & Parental Rights Campaign, filed the federal lawsuit Monday on behalf of the Perez family. He named several members of the Clay County School District, including Superintendent Davis Broskie, Paterson Elementary School Principal John O’Brian, Vice-Principal Courtney Schumacher, and Washington.
According to the complaint, the girl’s identity changes increased bullying on campus, resulting in a level of “distress to the point of attempting suicide at school,” and the girl attempted to commit suicide on January 4 and 5. according to the trial.
The family said on Thursday that after being informed of their daughter’s suicide attempt, she was taken by police to a nearby hospital for mental health treatment.
Perez said they had limited contact with her and “were not able to comfort her” during this difficult time. About a week later, she was later released and is receiving proper treatment by medical professionals. He said his daughter was “fragile” but “happy”.
The family and their attorney also say the 12-year-old had shown no signs of a mental health crisis before the alleged meetings with Washington.
“Unlike many other parents we heard from, this child had no history of mental health issues. There were no other signs of gender dysphoria before that, there was no depression, no anxiety. He was generally a happy and mentally healthy kid,’ Broyles told DailyMail.com on Thursday.
“One of the things that is so distressing and shows so clearly the responsibility and fault of the school here is that they took a healthy child and after months of meeting her, in secret , they upset her and conflicted with herself that she felt the desire to end her life.
Broyles said the lawsuit seeks a “declaratory judgment that the school’s actions were unlawful” and an “injunction to change practices and policies” so parents can be contacted about a welfare issue. being or the mental health of their child.
She notes that school officials are “not competent or authorized” to make decisions about a child’s welfare and “it is imperative that they involve parents immediately”.
According to Perez, her 12-year-old daughter attempted to hang herself twice at school (pictured) after having ‘months of secret meetings about her gender identity’ and ‘creating a double life’ for her He also compared the approach taken by school leaders to the approach used by sex offenders when preying on children.
Perez, who is Catholic, also alleges that the school violated their human rights “by intentionally and recklessly withholding information” about their daughter’s gender identity based on the child’s “alleged ‘privacy rights'”. “.
The father said the situation was a “nightmare” and accused Washington of citing his religious beliefs as the reason his daughter didn’t want her parents to know about her alleged identity crisis.
“I took offense because it had nothing to do with it,” Perez told Action News Jax. I mean, I don’t even know if she understands our faith. It showed that she didn’t know him. Our faith is that of unconditional love for our children.
Broyles, speaking to DailyMail.com on Thursday, echoed those claims and accused the school of keeping the Perez family in the dark because the beliefs they were instilling in the child contradicted those of the family and of their faith.
“They were looking to substitute their belief system – to endorse a child in a different identity from biological reality, how that child was created – it’s a belief system and it’s an ideological belief system,” a- she declared.
“In effect, the school subjugated and contradicted the beliefs, values and faith that these parents sought to instill in their child. What they are entitled to.
She also argued that Perez’s daughter had no legal right to confidentiality, as the school counselor allegedly claimed.
However, a Jacksonville-based counselor told Action News Jax earlier this week that a child’s privacy is protected until the individuals “present a danger of harming themselves or others”. . At this point, parents or guardians should be notified.
The federal lawsuit was filed in court Monday by the Campaign for Children’s and Parents’ Rights against several members of the school district, including Superintendent Davis Broskie (top left), elementary school principal Paterson John O’Brian (top right), vice-principal Courtney Schumacher (bottom left), and school counselor Destiney Washington (bottom right)
The school district told DailyMail.com that as of Thursday it was not served with any legal process, adding: “The district has conducted a thorough and complete investigation of this matter as presented to us and has determined that the allegations made by this out-of-state organization are completely false, fabricated, and appear to be intended solely to incite the public.
“All District employees are constantly working to ensure that the best interests of all students are served. The district will not comment further on this.
Broyles hit back, saying: ‘The school is reacting in typical school district fashion – to deny responsibility because they understand they are under the control of the court. We are quite confident of the facts as they are disclosed by the school officials themselves directly to these parents.
There is currently active legislation in the state of Florida addressing concerns similar to those of the Perez family.
House Bill 1557, also known as the Parental Rights in Education Bill, would require school boards to notify parents of specific information regarding the emotional, physical, and mental well-being of a child. It would also limit classroom conversations about sexual orientation and gender identity.
Critics, calling it the Don’t Say Gay Bill, say it also encourages parents to sue schools or teachers who engage in discussions about these topics with students.
“We call it the ‘don’t say gay’ bill because it will essentially erase conversations in our classrooms about students, families and LGBTQ history,” State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith told TV channel.
“A lot of LGBTQ people don’t have a supportive home. They don’t have supportive parents. Often their teachers and school environment are the only support they have and we cannot take that away.
Boyles is said to be a supporter of the bill, which is currently on the House Judiciary Committee.