A mother is suing the Spreckels Union School District and two of its middle school teachers, who she claims influenced her preteen daughter to begin identifying as a boy without her mother’s knowledge or consent.
According to Jessica Konen, the influence stemmed from Kelly Baraki and Lori Caldeira, who ran the “You Be You” Equality Club at Buena Vista Middle School in Spreckels, California. Late last year, both teachers became the subject of national controversy when Baraki was captured on secretly recorded audio saying that she and Caldeira “totally stalked” students’ online searches to recruit them for the Equality Club.
Konen said that those same teachers used “predatorial” tactics over the 2018-2019 school year first to convince her daughter that she was bisexual and then that she was transgender – despite the fact that her daughter, then only 11 years old, did not fully understand those terms. As a result, the girl began to dress and identify as a boy.
However, Konen claims that these changes, along with her daughter’s “Gender Support Plan” crafted by the school, were kept secret from her. This was allegedly done per the school district’s Parental Secrecy Policy.
Konen’s complaint, drafted by attorneys Harmeet Dhillon and Joshua Wallace Dixon with the Center for American Liberty, claims that both Baraki and Caldeira went to great lengths to hide the change from Konen. Among other things, they instructed the girl not to use her new masculine name or pronouns around her mother. Konen claims that these were first revealed to her at a meeting in December 2019.
The complaint goes on to say that when Buena Vista Middle School transitioned to remote learning at the start of the pandemic, Konen’s daughter began to once again identify as female – which Konen attributes to her being freed from the direct influence of Baraki and Caldeira.
Konen has said that she was initially supportive of her daughter’s identity and only objects to the prospect of her daughter being secretly coached without her knowledge or consent.
The California Teachers Association blamed the lawsuit on a “political climate right now in which outside political forces fuel chaos and misinformation.”