A New York teacher was accused of “manipulating” a 5th-grade girl into changing her gender without parents’ knowledge or consent, causing “suicidal ideation,” a lawsuit filed against a school district alleged.
Teacher Debra Rosenquist works at the Terryville Road Elementary School in the Brookhaven-Comsewogue School District, and was named along with the superintendent, Jennifer J. Quinn, and the principal, Annemarie V. Sciove, in a suit filed on Jan. 23.
The suit claims the student, who was assigned female at birth and identifies as female, was targeted by her teacher, Rosenquist, throughout the 2021-2022 school year. Rosenquist began to use a male name and pronouns for the student, the suit says. The plaintiff student and parents’ anonymity were maintained in the lawsuit.
“As a result, [the student] became confused as to her gender. Despite knowing about Rosenquist’s conduct…, it took the District, [Superintendent] Quinn, and [Principal] Sciove months to inform [her parents] about it,” the suit said.
“Rosenquist pursued her own agenda outside the curriculum, which included persuading her 5th-grade students to try ‘being gay’ or being another gender even when they were not. To further her agenda, Rosenquist read and provided her student’s graphic books about gender and sexuality which were not on the curriculum,” the suit said.
The district admitted in a meeting with the parents “that they had no idea Rosenquist taught from a book about LGBTQ+ individuals that were not part of the curriculum and how detailed the book was about transitioning, surgery, and hormones.” One of the books Rosenquist used was “When Aidan Became a Brother,” the lawsuit said.
In the book, Aidan’s mother admits she made a mistake misgendering her son, saying, “When you were born, we didn’t know you were going to be our son. We made some mistakes, but you helped us fix them.”
The parents were supportive of supporting their child in discovering their identity, but they did not believe their daughter expressed a desire to change her gender on her own. “[The parents] were incredibly concerned about the well-being of their 9-year-old daughter. They have and will always support [their child] but worried that [she] was being persuaded by Rosenquist to be transgender when she had not expressed any such inclination.”
“Debra Rosenquist manipulated a pre-teen female into changing her gender identity when the child did not feel any inclination to do so,” the parents’ attorney, Debra L. Wabnik, Esq., told Fox News. “The parents did not learn about what Rosenquist was forcing upon their daughter until it was discovered that the child had suicidal ideations.”
“The psychological and social damage Rosenquist caused this child and her family was immense. Incredibly, the District still has Rosenquist in the classroom where she can similarly harm other innocent children,” Wabnik added.
The 5th-grade girl became so “distressed by Rosenquist’s referring to her as a male that she drew a picture of a girl and referenced suicide,” the lawsuit said. In January 2022, the parents were informed that their daughter drew a picture of a girl with the words “I wanna kill myself” and “I feel sad like a lot.”
Rosenquist also encouraged her classroom to “try being gay” or “try being a boy (if they were a girl) or girl (if they were a boy),” the lawsuit said. It added that the Brookhaven-Comsewogue School District was aware of her actions, as they were believed to have been reported to the District.
Superintendent Quinn released a statement to Fox News, which said, “After a thorough investigation and consultation with our attorney, action is [being] taken in accordance with applicable laws and collective bargaining agreements. Please be assured that this has been done.”
Quinn said she was limited on what she could comment on because it was a matter of pending litigation.
“However, whenever we receive a complaint regarding any employee, it is immediately investigated to determine whether disciplinary action is appropriate. The Comsewogue School District fosters a caring atmosphere conducive to learning free of any behaviors violative of our goal of dignity for all students. The health, safety and welfare of our students and staff are always the district’s top priority.”