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New York School Lies to Mother, Hides So-Called ‘Social Transition’ of Daughter

Skaneateles Middle School began treating a seventh-grade girl as the opposite sex and actively lied to her parents about it.
Alliance Defending Freedom
A row of blue lockers lines a school hallway

Moving to a new country is never easy—especially for a soon-to-be fourth-grader. That’s how old Jennifer Vitsaxaki’s youngest daughter was when her family unexpectedly had to move from Greece to the United States due to the economic crisis in her home country.

Jennifer’s daughter had to learn a new culture, adopt a new primary language, and spend extended time away from her father. The last thing she needed was for staff at her school to usher her into the confusion of using a new name and pronouns.

But school staff did just that. Worse, they actively concealed their actions from Jennifer.

Struggling to adapt to a new country and a new school

Jennifer and her husband had planned to raise their three daughters in Greece. But after the Greek economy collapsed, it became clear that they could no longer raise their children there. Jennifer and the girls moved to live with her parents in Skaneateles, New York, while her husband stayed in Greece for work.

Jennifer’s youngest daughter enrolled in fourth grade in the Skaneateles Central School District, where Jennifer began to notice that her daughter was having trouble adapting to a new school in a new country.

She noticed that her daughter was struggling to relate to her classmates in English, which had been her second language. Jennifer worked closely with her daughter’s teacher, and little by little, her daughter became more comfortable. But the move from fourth to fifth grade brought renewed challenges.

With a new teacher and class, Jennifer’s daughter struggled to maintain friendships. Jennifer remained in regular contact with the teacher and principal, and her daughter began working with the school counselor to reduce anxiety. Still, much of the anxiety persisted throughout the year.

School guidance counselor conceals bullying from mother

Before her daughter began sixth grade at Skaneateles Middle School, Jennifer wanted to do whatever she could to ensure her daughter’s success. She met with the middle school guidance counselor and school psychologist to discuss her daughter’s struggles with anxiety and academics, and they assured Jennifer that they would take care of the girl.

But once her daughter started school that year, Jennifer noticed her experiencing increased anxiety and referring to herself with demeaning adjectives. She even resisted going to school in the morning.

Jennifer suspected that her daughter might be getting bullied, and she asked multiple staff members about it, including the school guidance counselor. All of them told her that her daughter was not being bullied and was doing just fine at school. This was a lie.

In reality, the guidance counselor was well aware that Jennifer’s daughter was being bullied because he was meeting regularly with her and other students to discuss conflicts they were having. He would routinely remove her from lunch and even class instruction for these meetings. But he actively concealed these meetings from Jennifer when she asked about bullying.

Despite the frequent meetings, the bullying continued.

School officials coordinate secret ‘social transition’

Around this same time, other classmates of Jennifer’s daughter began experimenting with the idea of adopting names and pronouns that differed from their legal names and did not correspond to their biological sex.

By spring, at least two of those classmates had formally asked the school to refer to them by new names and pronouns that did not match their sex. The school policy was to grant these requests and begin treating the students as if they were a different sex—a process sometimes referred to as a “social transition.”

In addition, school policy instructed teachers not to tell students’ parents about these “social transitions” without permission from the administration. The school followed these policies and began using new names and pronouns for the students. All the while, Jennifer was unaware that her daughter was witnessing these secret “social transitions.”

When Jennifer’s daughter began seventh grade, her anxiety worsened. She asked her mother to become a bus driver so that she could drive her to school, and Jennifer agreed. But Jennifer still didn’t know that the school guidance counselor and psychologist were regularly meeting with her daughter, nor did she find out when her daughter began meeting with the school nurse.

Eventually, Jennifer’s daughter asked the guidance counselor to use a male name and the pronouns “they” and “them” to refer to her, as she had seen several of her classmates do. The guidance counselor, psychologist, and school social worker met with her and facilitated this “social transition” without informing Jennifer.

Jennifer noticed her daughter’s condition continuing to deteriorate, and she asked multiple staff members whether they had noticed anything that could be causing this. Each of them answered, “no,” even though they were actively referring to Jennifer’s daughter with a new name and incorrect pronouns while concealing it from her. When they spoke to Jennifer, they used her daughter’s given name and correct female pronouns.

In the weeks that followed, the school social worker started an “LGBTQ club” at lunch and encouraged Jennifer’s daughter to attend. The social worker gave the girl resources about pursuing so-called “medical transition,” which refers to the use of drugs, medical devices, or surgeries to make a person’s body appear more like the opposite sex. This included contact information for “Cross Hormone Providers” and “Surgeons,” and information about where to obtain “breast binders” and other medical devices.

She also introduced the students to “The Q Center,” which provides services like an “LGBTQ Rapid ReHousing Program.”

In April 2021, school officials completed a “Gender Support Plan” for Jennifer’s daughter. It instructed staff to use the new name and pronouns at school but the girl’s legal name when speaking to Jennifer.

Jennifer defends her daughter—and ADF defends her rights

Finally, after months of school officials deceiving Jennifer, her daughter’s English teacher told the school principal that she was uncomfortable deceiving a parent. The principal called Jennifer to discuss her daughter, but he did not tell her that her daughter was listening to the call on speakerphone.

The principal told Jennifer that the school had been referring to her daughter by a masculine name for months and had created a “gender support team” for her. This was news to Jennifer. She had never heard any gender-related concerns about her daughter—either from school staff or the girl herself.

Jennifer objected to the school’s actions, and so did her husband, who arranged to be present alongside Jennifer for a meeting with the school officials who had led the school’s treatment of their daughter as a boy. It was during this meeting that Jennifer and her husband first learned that staff members had regularly met with their daughter to discuss gender. While the school officials apologized for the situation, they said they had acted according to the school district’s policy and consulted with an attorney. They also made it clear that they would not stop.

Jennifer had no choice but to pull her daughter from the school. Jennifer enrolled her in a private school 25 miles away from the family’s house. While the girl is noticeably more comfortable at her new school, the long commute and high tuition costs have created even more logistical problems for the family.

Parents have the right to direct the upbringing, education, and health care of their children, which Skaneateles Central School District officials violated by secretly Jennifer’s daughter as a boy. Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit against the district on Jennifer’s behalf to protect her rights and ensure that other families are not deceived like she was.

Vitsaxaki v. Skaneateles Central School District

  • January 2024: ADF attorneys filed a lawsuit on Jennifer’s behalf to defend her parental rights.