YORBA LINDA (CBSLA.com) – The parents of an 8-year-old Yorba Linda transgender student have filed a discrimination lawsuit against a private school, claiming it refused to allow her to wear a girl's uniform and forced her to use a boy's restroom.
The family of Nicole Brar filed the lawsuit Thursday in Orange County Superior Court against Heritage Oak Private School, and its parent company, Nobel Learning Communities.
Brar was enrolled at the school after coming out to her parents as transgender just before she turned 7, the suit states.
The lawsuit alleges the school refused several requests by Brar and her family to allow her to "use the name, pronoun, and gender corresponding" to her gender identity. It claims the school did not address bullying against her, required her to wear a boy's uniform and to use a boy's restroom.
The lawsuit claims that the school's response led Brar into a period of depression and social isolation in which she talked about "self-harm."
It alleges that Heritage Oak -- a pre-K-8 secular school -- is under the same "anti-discrimination laws that apply to all business establishments."
The Public Counsel, a pro bono law firm which is representing Brar, says her parents pulled her out of Heritage Oak during the 2016-17 academic year, homeschooled her for the remainder of the school year, and then enrolled her in a public school in the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District.
A statement from Heritage Oak spokesperson Kerry Owens said in part:
"We were mindful in this instance of the need to support not just this 7-year-old, but other young children. 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 spring semester of second grade and fall semester of third grade), process and age-appropriate communication."
Brar and her parents are requesting unknown compensatory damages for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act and violation of business and professional codes.
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