An Oregon mother and father are suing a school district for nearly $1 million after they say their son's second-grade teacher last year asked him several times if he thought he was a girl and held him out of recess to read books, watch videos, and have one-on-one conversations about being transgender — all without their knowledge, KPTV-TV reported.
"He feels different now, he feels confused," the mother told the station, which didn't reveal her identity or the father's identity. "To hear your son say that ... on a couch talking to a therapist, holding back tears — it's very heartbreaking."
What's the background?
The parents told KPTV it started when their son began using the staff restroom at Nellie Muir Elementary School in Woodburn because a stomach condition left him feeling uncomfortable using the boys' restroom. They added to the station they believe the teacher assumed their son — who was 8 at the time — was uncomfortable using the boys' restroom because he was transgender.
The mother and father also told KPTV the teacher — who they said still works at the school — obtained transgender-themed materials to share with their son from one of the teacher's transgender friends.
Then the boy brought home one of the books from school, the parents told the station.
"She should have notified us if that was the case, if he did say he felt like a girl," the boy's father told KPTV.
The parents' complaint said it was all "an effort to promote [him] becoming transgender" and demonstrate to their son "it is acceptable to become transgender," the Statesman Journal reported.
"[They] were extremely shocked to find out that she would expose [their son] to various sexual concepts, such as the difference between male and female body parts," the family's attorney Edgar Diaz said in the lawsuit, the paper added.
The parents filed a complaint with the school but said school officials minimized what has occurred, telling them, "If this happened in Portland, it would not be a big deal," the Statesman Journal said.
"Still today, a year later, if he plays with my niece, he's a girl in that moment … if he plays with my nephew, he's a boy," the mother added to the station.
Also, the boy now shies away from playing with "girl" toys or playing "girl-related" games and underwent personality changes, becoming more depressed, aggressive, and isolated, the paper said.
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The mother says her son was left confused and hurt after being singled out. Now, a year later, the 9-year-old is taking anxiety medication and going to therapy, according to his parents. The family says the boy's confusion and emotional distress has also affected the entire family. The father says he's suffering from panic attacks and the mother says she's now on medical leave, suffering from anxiety and depression, and staying home from work.
"He has also become afraid of attending his current school, seeing [the teacher], and using the boys' bathroom," Diaz said in the complaint, the Statesman Journal reported.
"He can be whatever he wants, I don't care what he is," the father told the station. "I just want him to be my happy son, and I feel like she messed that up. It frustrates me that my son can be influenced that drastically and nothing be done about it; they just wanted to sweep it under the rug."
The parents' lawsuit accuses the school district of negligence, false imprisonment,and intentional infliction of emotional distress, KPTV said, adding that Woodburn School District said it cannot comment about the lawsuit.