Lawsuit aimed at banning transgender discussion in Mount Lebanon School District

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A lawsuit KDKA-TV just got its hands on alleges that the Mount Lebanon School District has violated three parents’ civil and constitutional rights “to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control.”

Carmilla Tatel, Stacy Dunn and Gretchen Melton have named the district, the school board and one teacher, in particular, Megan Williams, among others in the lawsuit.

“This lawsuit seeks to prevent instruction in the District on gender dysphoria and transgender transitioning now and in the future, particularly at the elementary school level,” the 45-page lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit alleges that “Williams has told parents that she ‘has an agenda’ and intends to continue to teach ‘right on the edge.'” The plaintiffs argue that Williams “has no First Amendment right to teach her ‘agenda’ to six- and seven-year-olds.”

The three plaintiffs also noted in the lawsuit that they have family and friends in “the LBGT community and have been intimately involved in diversity efforts in their own workplaces.”

“It is not about censorship,” the lawsuit continues. “It is not about burning books. It is not about precluding appropriate DEI initiatives. Rather, it is about Plaintiffs’ parental rights and each of their respective decisions not to want their six- or seven-year-old child to receive first-grade classroom instruction on gender dysphoria or transgender transitioning from their first-grade teacher.

Tatel is a mother of three children, all of whom attend school in the district, and one of whom who was in Williams’ class this school year. Dunn also has three children, two of whom are students in the district. According to the lawsuit, she removed one of her children from Williams’ class, alleging the teacher engaged in “inappropriate conduct toward her son.”

Melton also has three children, all of whom either attend or still attend school in the district, including one who was in Williams’ class this year.

Later in the lawsuit, the plaintiffs’ other allegations, including a claim that Williams kept her students seated during the Pledge of Allegiance for the first 52 mornings of this school year.

KDKA-TV reached out to the attorney who filed the lawsuit. He said he doesn’t comment on pending litigation and neither will his clients.

The district provided the following statement to KDKA-TV on Thursday afternoon, in response to the lawsuit:

The Mt. Lebanon School District deeply values and appreciates the close partnership we have with our families and strives to be a place where every student feels welcomed, valued, and respected. The complaint filed against the District, its Board, and employees contains various allegations that are untrue or based on partial truths that mischaracterize events for sensational effect. The District looks forward to the opportunity to set the record straight.

Although we will not comment further on pending litigation, we refer the community to our Equity Statement: “The Mt. Lebanon School District is committed to providing a safe, inclusive, and welcoming school environment that recognizes and celebrates the diverse identities of all members of our school community, including students, their families, faculty, and staff. All students, regardless of background, identity, or ability will be supported to reach their full potential and pursue their unique talents. The District will provide resources in a just and equitable manner and remove barriers to allow students to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.

Asta Kill is a parent in the district. Her son just finished sixth grade. She is openly transgender and disagrees with the parents’ concerns. Kill said she doesn’t think first graders are too young to learn about this topic.

“I don’t understand why these parents are so concerned. It would create more inclusion and more acceptance overall and would benefit their kids as well to learn about the benefits of inclusion,” Kill said.

An organization on the North Side that serves LGBTQ youth and their families said you just have to approach the topic in a different way.

“The way you talk to first graders is not the way you talk to high school students, is not the way you talk to adults. But you can still introduce topics about difference,” said Sarah Rosso, executive director of the Hugh Lane Wellness Foundation.

* Article from: CBS Pittsburgh