Father sues ex-wife, Villa Park school district over child's gender transition

A Florida man has filed a federal lawsuit against his ex-wife and Villa Park-Lombard School District 45 alleging they are unlawfully enabling his 12-year-old child to transition from a male to a female gender identity without his consent.

The suit claims the father's parental rights are being violated and that some mental health experts believe children transitioning before they're old enough to make such a life-altering decision can have negative consequences.

The father's Chicago-based attorney, Dean Tatooles, said both the mother and school district are named as defendants because both are allowing the gender transition to take place against the father's wishes. The suit alleges the mother does not have the authority to make unilateral treatment decisions for the child.

"It violates the right of a parent to raise their child as they wish," Tatooles said.

Neither the mother nor a legal representative for her could be reached for comment Wednesday. A spokesman for District 45 said the school district does not comment on pending litigation.

The suit alleges District 45 staff member worked with the child's mother to promote or otherwise affirm the child's transition to a different gender identity at school over the father's written objection.

"School District 45 and (the mother's) concerted actions also violated (the father's) constitutional rights by taking a major, controversial, psychologically impactful, and potentially life-altering decision out of (the father's) hands and puts it into the hands of (the mother), unilaterally," the suit states.

The suit asks a court to declare the alleged actions unconstitutional and block the school district from allowing or requiring staff members to refer to students using names or pronouns at odds with their biological sex without parental consent.

The father also is seeking $75,000 in damages, plus undisclosed punitive damages.

Glen Kaufman, another Chicago-based attorney, is representing the father in an earlier filed case seeking to give him primary physical custody of the child. Kaufman said that if he prevails in that case, the federal lawsuit would be moot.

He added the gender transition has been underway for the better part of a year, during which the child has been wearing traditionally female clothing and makeup, and using a female name.

While the federal lawsuit is being pursued, Tatooles said a temporary restraining order could be sought against the school district to keep current practices in check while the case is being decided. But he couldn't predict the exact details of such an order.

"I think what the court would look at is the research and the data," Tatooles said.

The lawsuit was filed on April 19, and a first court hearing has not yet been scheduled.

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