The so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) last month and at the press conference he told a story about a little girl the school decided should change gender.
"We had a mother from Leon County, and her daughter was going to school and some people in the school had decided that the daughter was really a boy and not a girl," DeSantis told the press on Tuesday. "So they changed the girl's name to a boy's name, had her dress like a boy and on doing all this stuff, without telling the mother or getting consent from the mother. First of all, they shouldn't be doing that at all. But to do these things behind the parents' back and to say that the parents should be shut out. That is wrong."
The story has been part of a narrative by Republicans to justify that schools have become indoctrination camps by liberals teaching "critical race theory" and talking to Kindergartners about sex.
A fact-check from CNN showed, however, that the story is a lie. The teen's mother, a woman named January Littlejohn, a registered Republican, wrote to the school in 2020 saying that her teen has decided to be "non-binary" and would prefer to go by the pronoun they/them.
As the Tallahassee Democrat explained that Littlejohn cited the emails in her lawsuit against the school, thus making them publicly available.
"This has been an incredibly difficult situation for our family and her father and I are trying to be as supportive as we can," Littlejohn wrote to a teacher on Aug. 27, 2020, email to a teacher. "She is currently identifying as non-binary. She would like to go by the new name [redacted] and prefers the pronouns they/them. We have not changed her name at home yet, but I told her if she wants to go by the name [redacted] with her teachers, I won't stop her."
The teacher responded, thanking Littlejohn and asking if she should share the information with other teachers.
"Whatever you think is best or [redacted] can handle it herself.... I sincerely appreciate your support. I'm going to let her take the lead on this," the mother replied. So, the teacher shared it with others.
In a Politico report, it was revealed that in Sept. 2020 when Littlejohn picked her teen up from school, they made an off-hand comment "it was funny" when the school asked which bathroom they would prefer to use.
Just months later the family was suing the school alleging that the school's officials met with the child and created a "Transgender/Gender Nonconforming Student Support Plan." It basically outlines what the pronouns are and what the child would like to be called along with "expectations regarding rooming for any overnight trips."
Fewer than 10 students in the 33,000-student district have such plans. When Littlejohn asked for the information she said that the school denied it and tried to hide it.
"From the moment Mrs. Littlejohn first emailed her child's teacher to inform our staff of the situation, this has been handled together in partnership with clear communication. We understand that outside entities have now become involved, but the family clearly instructed the school staff via email to allow their child to 'take the lead on this' and to do 'whatever you think is the best,'" said the Leon County Schools in a statement by a spokesperson.
"Additionally, our superintendent met with the family and committed to amend any vague or unclear policy language--of which we have created a committee and are working on currently. We truly hope for a swift outcome in this case in order to allow the student to continue to succeed in school," the statement also said.
A new (2019) Virginia and Georgia law firm formed a non-profit "campaign" to sue school districts for parents who believe they were wronged. They aim "to respond to a radical new ideology overtaking families."
“When you listen to January tell her story about what they did with her child, without her knowledge or consent, I don’t think there’s very many parents in the state of Florida that think that’s OK,” DeSantis as he signed the "parents" law. “I can tell you I don’t think that’s OK.”
DeSantis has been asked about the emails saying contrary to what he has claimed in his repeated telling of the stories. When asked about it, he dismissed the emails, implying that the school admitted they were wrong. In fact, the school told the family they were sorry the family was going through such an ordeal.
For their fact-check, CNN reached out to the governor's office again, asking about the emails revealed by the lawsuit and the discrepancies in DeSantis' story. They refused to respond.
The law is now in the courts after a group of parents sued to stop it.
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