A New Jersey father, Frederick K. Short, has taken legal action against his public school district and the state Department of Education concerning a policy allowing educators to withhold a student’s change of “gender identity” from parents. Short expressed his concern in a sworn statement accompanying his legal complaint, stating that the policy could create a divide between his children and himself and his wife. His three children attend schools within the Cherry Hill district where this policy is enforced.
Short’s lawsuit, presented by attorney Thomas Stavrola, alleges violations of state and federal laws. It primarily challenges the New Jersey Transgender Student Guidance for School Districts, issued by the state Department of Education and adopted by the Cherry Hill Township school board. The legal action contends that this policy breaches fundamental parental rights as protected under the U.S. Constitution.
The lawsuit argues that the guidelines, while directed by the 2017 legislation calling for the development of guidelines on transgender students, overreach their intended scope. Specifically, the guidelines instruct schools to maintain confidentiality about a student’s transitioning or transgender status without the obligation to inform parents, going beyond legislative intent.
Short’s complaint highlights the guidelines’ directive that schools accept a student’s asserted gender identity without requiring parental consent and without meeting specific diagnosis or treatment criteria. It emphasizes the suggestion for schools to develop a confidentiality plan regarding a student’s transgender status, an aspect of the guidelines that Short’s lawsuit disputes as detrimental to a child’s psychological well-being.
The lawsuit draws upon expert opinions, including insights from individuals within psychology and psychiatry, asserting that concealing a student’s perceived identity from parents can result in psychological harm and challenges the professional recommendation for teachers and school officials to facilitate a student’s transition without parental involvement.