Massachusetts parents sue school, say officials encouraged children to use new names, pronouns without consent

Parents Stephen Foote and Marissa Silvestri claim their child was encouraged by Ludlow Public School officials to adopt a new name and different gendered pronouns. Parents Jonathan Feliciano and Sandra Salmeron, who are also involved in the suit, allege the school’s policies to withhold information from parents about children’s gender identities violates their parental and religious rights.

The Massachusetts state flag on display outside the State House.

The Massachusetts state flag on display outside the State House. (Rob Dirienzo/Fox News)

“[The Ludlow School Committee and implicated educators] exceeded the bounds of legitimate pedagogical concerns and usurped the role of [the plaintiffs] and other parents in the Town of Ludlow to direct the education and upbringing of their children, make medical and mental health decisions for their children and to promote and preserve family privacy and integrity,” the lawsuit alleges.

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“Defendants’ protocol and practice of concealing from parents information related to their children’s gender identity and efforts to affirm a discordant student gender identity at school violates parents’ fundamental rights under the United States and Massachusetts constitutions and violates children’s reciprocal rights to the care and custody of their parents, familial privacy and integrity.”

Lori Gadreau asks a question at Loranger Memorial School in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, Sept. 8, 2020.

Lori Gadreau asks a question at Loranger Memorial School in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, Sept. 8, 2020. (Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

The lawsuit carves out specific complaints on behalf of Feliciano and Salmeron, who are basing their lawsuit on religious freedom.

“As to plaintiffs Jonathan Feliciano and Sandra Salmeron, it also violates their fundamental right to free exercise of religion under the United States and Massachusetts constitutions.”

The lawsuit was prepared and filed on behalf of the families by two organizations – the Massachusetts Family Institute and the Child and Parental Rights Campaign.

“We want to support our students the best we can,” Ludlow School Committee Chair James Harrington told state news outlet MassLive. “But we should bring parents to the table and hope they respond in a loving and supportive way as well.”

The case is set to go before a federal court.

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