January Littlejohn knew there was a problem when she picked up her daughter at Deer Lake Middle School in Tallahassee, Florida one September afternoon last year. Her daughter revealed she was interviewed by school officials about gender preferences. She was asked by officials about changing her name and also about which restroom she preferred to use.

Littlejohn, who is a mother of three children and a licensed mental health counselor, was shocked. Shocked at the fact that the meeting took place without her knowledge.

She had previously informed school officials about the family situation. Her daughter was experiencing stress about her gender at the height of the pandemic and the family was completely caught by surprise. The family found a counselor and began researching the issue.

And now school officials had intervened between her and her daughter over a very personal issue.

She would later explain in a speech to the Florida Family Policy Council how “gender ideology almost destroyed my family.”

School Officials: Middle School Children Have a Right to Privacy

Littlejohn immediately called the school. However, the answers she received from school officials would raise further concerns. She was told they could not disclose what occurred at the meeting with her daughter. They said that Littlejohn’s 13-year-old daughter had to give consent by law for her and her husband to be notified and present at the meeting.

“After several weeks of back and forth with the district, finally we were able to meet with the principal and we were finally shown the transgender gender non-conforming student support plan that was created and signed by my daughter”, said Littlejohn.

The student support plan was a six-page document that she completed with the vice principal, the guidance counselor, and a social worker that her parents had never met.

They gave the daughter sole authority to decide if her parents could be notified of the meeting or attend. The officials allowed Littlejohn’s daughter to change her name and pronouns, restroom preference, and even choose if she chose to room with males or females on overnight school field trips.

“The plan also stated to use her birth name when speaking to us, in effect to deceive us of the social transition that had occurred,” said Littlejohn.

Littlejohn eventually discovered that the school policy directed officials not to contact parents when discussing gender related issues with the students.

Specifically, the district stated that “parents are not to be informed when their children announce a transgender identity with school personnel or when they chose a restroom that matches their gender identity.

The guide also noted that children have a legally protected right to keep from their parents information regarding their gender identity and steps taken by the district to affirm that identity.

The guide stated that “Outing a student, especially to parents, can be very dangerous to the student’s health and well-being.”

Littlejohn is warning parents about her experience and the consequences.

She said the policies that relate to gender are “driving a very dangerous wedge between children and their parents.”

In addition, she said the guidelines “send the message to the child that parents are the enemy and that children need to be protected from their parents instead of by their parents; that their input and authority are no longer important.”

Call to Action

Littlejohn emphasized that this issue impacts “all types of families of every race, religions, everyone and her experience in Leon County is not an isolated incident in Leon County.” She said there are at least 12 Florida school districts that “have the same exact guidance, same wording, everything, on their website today.”

Littlejohn’s call to action is for parents to get comfortable having conversations related to gender. She notes it is important to do research and be informed and to understand that it is not transphobic to ask questions.

The Littlejohn’s recently filed a federal lawsuit against the Leon County school board. Ms. Littlejohn says “is ultimately about protecting the rights of parents to raise their child without the interference of government officials.”

Watch her remarks at the Florida Family Policy Council here:

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Steve Stewart is the Managing Editor and a contributor at The Florida Capital Star. Email tips to [email protected].
Image “January Littlejohn” by the Florida Family Policy Council.