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Parents of 8-year-old Transgender Student File Discrimination Lawsuit

— August 9, 2017

Parents of 8-year-old Transgender Student File Discrimination Lawsuit

The parents of transgender student Nicole (Nikki) Brar, 8 years old, filed a discrimination lawsuit against Heritage Oak School, a for-profit, secular, private school, and its parent company Nobel Learning Communities.  The complaint was filed by Public Counsel, a pro-bono organization.  The parents alleged Heritage Oak forbid Nicole from using the girls’ bathroom and sat back and watched as she was bullied by other students.  The complaint specifically states that Heritage and Nobel “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.”

Parents of 8-year-old Transgender Student File Discrimination Lawsuit
Image Courtesy of the Brar Family

The complaint cites California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity.  It goes on to state, “Heritage Oak engaged in this intentional discrimination despite its express and prominently publicized policies of nondiscrimination, diversity, and teaching the ‘whole child’ and despite the fact that Nikki’s parents repeatedly asked the school to respect her identity and repeatedly offered to help educate the school about the needs of transgender children.”

Nobel Learning issued the following statement:  “We believed it was extremely important to respond, not hastily, but with deliberate care, to decide when and how to inform and educate our entire elementary school community of students, staff and parents about the mid-year change of gender identity expression of a young child. Due to the sensitivity of the issue and age of the child, we believed we needed expert guidance regarding timing (such as preparing children for a change they would see in the spring semester of second grade and fall semester of third grade), process and age-appropriate communication.” Administrators went on to claim that the company had hired an outside consultant, but “Unfortunately, these accommodations were rejected and the parents withdrew their child.”

Nikki, still so young, could remain anonymous, but she feels so passionate about her position that she is choosing to allow her identity to be known.  The child knew from a really young age she wanted to be a girl and first discussed this verbally with her parents at the age of four.  Even prior to that, she took a keen interest in the color pink and would walk around the house in her mother’s heels.  When she approached her parents about identifying as a girl again just before her seventh birthday, they took Nikki to a therapist who specializes in gender.  After that, they began allowing her to wear female clothing, and for the first time, Nikki let her parents photograph her, saying wearing boy clothes had “felt like a prison.”

Parents of 8-year-old Transgender Student File Discrimination Lawsuit
Image Courtesy of Institute for Applied Management and Law

According to her attorneys, her case is about “fighting on behalf of her right to an education without discrimination.”  Mark Rosenbaum, who directs Public Counsel stated, “This is the first [transgender rights] case to use a state antidiscrimination law as one of the grounds for relief.  In light of the Trump administration’s inaction on taking a stand against discrimination against trans individuals … this is a terribly important case.”


Family of transgender child brings discrimination case against private school

Official Complaint

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