The lawsuit, filed last month, contends the Rockford Public School District hid from Dan and Jennifer Mead the fact that their middle school-aged daughter sought to live as a boy and was treated as such while at school.
School officials maintain they were following district policy, but the Meads believe their 1st and 14th Amendment rights to practice their religion and to make decisions about their child's upbringing, education, and healthcare were violated.
"They were working very closely with the school because they had noticed some struggles with their daughter, struggles academically, struggles with her peers," Kate Anderson, director of Alliance Defending Freedom's Center for Parental Rights, told Washington Watch Tuesday.
The Meads began meeting with the East Rockford Middle School counselor in 2020, when their daughter was a sixth grader, and they reportedly developed trust in the individual.
So in May of 2022, when the daughter, then 13, messaged the counselor and asked that her teachers begin referring to her with a masculine name and pronouns, the counselor had plenty of opportunities to share that information with the Meads.
"They were working on an [Individualized Education Plan] with the school when they came to find out that those officials were hiding from them the fact that the school district had socially transitioned their daughter without their knowledge and consent," Anderson told show host Tony Perkins.
According to district policy, teachers and other school officials are to use a student's preferred name and pronouns while interacting with him or her at school, but use of the child's legal name and associated pronouns is required on official documents.
Anderson said the Meads were in "very close contact with the very people who were hiding this information … changing the names in the records before sending them home so that the male name that was being used at school was then changed back to their daughter's female name when sent to the parents."
In this case, the Meads only discovered what was happening when Dan received school correspondence in which a teacher had mistakenly used his daughter's preferred name instead of her given name.
"When Dan and Jennifer Mead confronted their school district about it, their school district told them, 'This is the way it is. This is a policy that we have. This is something that we have to do.' It's something that happens to too many families," Anderson lamented.
The couple soon removed their daughter from the school and began homeschooling her, and since then, her emotional well-being has reportedly improved.
"She's doing much better now that she has her parents walking alongside her," Anderson shared. "Parents have the responsibility to raise their kids, a responsibility given to us by God. When the school district lies to parents and hides important information about their kids, they keep those parents from fulfilling those obligations. It violates the parents' rights and hurts the kids."
The importance of those rights, she added, is highlighted in this context.
Parents, you're not alone
According to the ADF attorney, the Meads' case is far from unique because the school's policy is in place at many U.S. public schools.
Last year, for example, a California mother received $100,000 from her daughter's school district after it attempted to "secretly transition" the child to a boy.
According to the Center for American Liberty, the school "fostered her identification as a boy, gave her articles on how to conceal her new gender identity from her family, and put her on a 'Gender Support Plan' that instructed staff to refer to her by a male name and male pronouns."
Anderson wants parents to know that they are not alone.
"They have the rights to protect their kids in these circumstances," she asserts. "They need to make the decisions; they need to do what's right for their kids and [know] the law stands behind them. Be brave."