Southern California parents Priya Shah and Jaspret Brar are suing a private school for allegedly discriminating against their seven-year-old transgender child, Nicole (Nikki), who is biologically male but identifies as female.
The complaint alleges that the Heritage Oak Private Education school in Yorba Linda “unlawfully discriminated against Nikki,” and elaborates: “Heritage Oak repudiated Nikki’s core identity. It refused to use the name, pronoun, and gender corresponding to Nikki’s gender identity, required Nikki to wear the boy’s uniform and use the boy’s restroom, and failed to address the bullying that Nikki was subjected to because of her gender identity and gender expression.”
The complaint also describes the harm that Nikki allegedly suffered:
“Seven-year-old Nikki became depressed and talked about self-harm; she isolated herself socially and would not play with other children at recess because she could not be herself with them; she would not participate in school-related events after hours when she had to wear boy’s clothes; and she felt that the school was blocking her “inner light.” On the day when she tore a photograph of herself in half and cried out, “I hate myself,” Nikki’s parents had no choice but to remove her from the school and homeschool her for the rest of the year.”
In its “statement of facts” elaborating on the details of the case, the complaint asserts: “It is a scientific truth that, for certain children, their inner sense of themselves—their gender identity—does not correspond to the sex assigned to them at birth.”
The suit refers to California civil rights law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, which means biological sex as well as “gender identity and gender expression.”
In a statement reported by the Orange County Register, the school said that it had accommodated older transgender students without a problem, and that it had tried to work with Nikki’s parents, but that they rejected its approach.
The parents are being represented pro bono by Public Counsel, as well as by several academic lawyers from Harvard, University of California Irvine, and Western New England School of Law.