The Clay County School Board is being sued by parents that allege school officials hid their 12-year-old daughter’s mental health and gender identity issues for months – only informing them after the child attempted suicide in the school bathroom on two separate occasions. Clay County is located just southwest of Jacksonville.
The father said he was alerted on January 5 that his daughter attempted to commit suicide on campus.
Per reports, the complaint states that when the child’s parents had arrived at the school, the child was being placed into the back of a police car to be transported to a hospital for involuntary examination under Florida’s “Baker Act” law. The Baker Act allows law enforcement and certain health officials to initiate a mental health examination in the event a person is an imminent risk to herself or others based on apparent mental illness.
School officials allegedly defended their actions by invoking “confidentiality rules” to justify not including the parents in the counseling sessions.
However, the lawsuit notes that the Clay County Public Schools written guidance expressly contradicts the use of “confidentiality rules.” An exhibit attached to the lawsuit notes that children do not have a confidentiality right and that school officials must obtain parental consent before guaranteeing confidentiality to a child.
The Child and Parental Rights Campaign filed the suit on behalf of the parents in federal court. Child and Parental Rights Campaign, Inc. (CPR-C) is a non-partisan, non-profit public interest law firm whose mission is to defend parental rights and protect children’s well-being against the impacts of gender identity ideology.
The group recently filed a lawsuit against Leon County school officials related to allegations that a middle school student was put through a gender transition plan without parental notification. In that case, there was school guidance that indicated minor students did have a right to privacy. Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna has since changed the guidance.
The Clay County lawsuit names Clay County Schools superintendent and three Paterson Elementary officials and alleges that the school counselor engaged in secret therapy sessions with the elementary student over the course of several months in 2021. The student was distressed over being bullied and her confusion about her gender.
The suit claims that the school officials breached the child’s privacy by purporting to tell other teachers and students about the child’s new “male” name and gender identity without the child’s knowledge or approval and without informing her parents.
“It is a serious mental health decision that school personnel are not qualified, not competent, and not authorized to make,” Vernadette Broyles, CPR-C’s president, said. “Parents must be involved in these important decisions.”
In a statement, Clay County Schools said, “We performed an investigation into these allegations and believe the statements made by this out-of-state organization invalid.”
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Steve Stewart is a senior contributor at The Florida Capital Star. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Republished with permission from The Florida Capital Star