A California mother has filed a legal claim against a school district, alleging two teachers secretly groomed her 11-year-old daughter and manipulated her into thinking she was a transgender boy.
Jessica Konen filed the claim against Spreckels Union School District on Jan. 19, alleging Buena Vista Middle School teachers Lori Caldeira and Kelly Baraki manipulated her daughter into thinking she was bisexual and then went on to convince her child she was really a transgender boy.
Konen also claims Caldeira and Baraki gave her daughter information on how to bind her breasts to stop them from developing. She says the school did not inform her about what was going on until a December 2019 meeting.
After schools went remote in March 2020, Konen said her daughter was happy to identify as a girl when away from the teachers' influence.
Caldeira and Baraki are also alleged to have "stalked" social media for children they believed to be transgender, but insist communications between them were only made in jest.
Since filing the case, attorney Harmeet Dhillon told DailyMail.com that she has heard from parents across the country who describe "secretive trans grooming" by school officials.
"Parents are supposed to have access to all the educational records of their children," Dhillon said. "The concept that the schools have a right to be running secret, don't-tell-your-parents clubs and don't-tell-your-parents programs and actively coaching children how to mutilate themselves, which is you know, not growing your breasts, is certainly not consistent with California law."
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, students have privacy rights that extend to sexual orientation and gender identity under state and federal law. A school can only notify a parent of their child's sexual identity against their wishes in limited circumstances.
In a leaked recording from a California Teachers Association (CTA) conference, Caldeira and Baraki were heard discussing how they "stalked" students online for club recruits, according to DailyMail.com.
"When we were doing our virtual learning – we totally stalked what they were doing on Google, when they weren't doing schoolwork," Baraki said. "One of them was googling 'Trans Day of Visibility,' and we're like, 'Check. We're going to invite that kid when we get back on campus.'"
Caldeira told the San Francisco Chronicle the quotes were accurate but taken out of context or misrepresented. The stalking comment was a joke, she said.
The teachers attended the CTA conference on their own time, however, the district said, "many of the comments and themes stated in the article are alarming, concerning [and] disappointing." They were placed on administrative leave in November.
Konen is being assisted in her claim by free speech group The Center for American Liberty.
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