The New Hampshire mother of a high school student-athlete suspended from playing in a football game for telling a classmate there are “only two genders” spoke out publicly for the first time Thursday.
“My first reaction was that I was shocked,” the mother, who requested anonymity, told Fox News in a statement. Her son, a football player at the school, had texted a classmate while off school grounds.
“My son had already told me about the incident, so I knew what had happened,” the mother, who lives in Rockingham County, added. “When I saw the text messages, I agreed with my son. All he did was state an opinion. I defended him on the phone to the vice principal and said, ‘He has a right to his opinion.’”
The student and his mother sued Exeter High School and Vice Principal Mary Dovholuk Nov. 4, alleging they violated the teen’s constitutional right to free speech along with the New Hampshire Bill of Rights.
The school has a written policy on “transgender and gender nonconforming students” that says they have the right to be addressed by their preferred name and pronoun, irrespective of their biological sex.
The intentional refusal to respect a classmate’s chosen gender identity – including nonbinary and agender — is a violation of this policy, the suit says.
“This case shows that schools increasingly not only think that their role is to instill the correct ideological beliefs in students but to enforce those beliefs,” the family’s attorney, Ian Huyett, told Fox News. “Fortunately, they have no constitutional ability to do that, and it’s important they be reminded of that.”
The high school linebacker, identified as M.P. in the lawsuit, said his position aligned with his Catholic faith, according to the suit.
The controversy began on Sept. 9 when M.P. was in a Spanish class, and a student said she was nonbinary and preferred to be addressed by the pronoun “they.”
During a bus ride home that afternoon, M.P. began discussing the incident with some friends, the suit states.
A female classmate identified as A.G. overheard them and allegedly chimed in, “There are more than two genders!” A.G. is neither transgender nor nonbinary but believes in gender fluidity, the suit says.
A.G. later obtained M.G.’s phone number, and the pair had a contentious exchange, the papers allege.
“Gender and sex mean the same thing,” he wrote her. “There are only two genders and sexes.”
She insisted that gender is different from the biological sex one is assigned at birth. “Your [sic] in high school you should know this,” she shot back.
“I also know that ur a bozo,” he replied. “Just stfu and leave me alone,” he wrote, according to the lawsuit.
The next day, M.P. was pulled out of his science class by the vice principal and his football coach, William Ball.
The pair confronted him with the text messages A.G. had turned over and chastised him for “not respecting pronouns,” Huyett wrote in the suit.
Dovholuk also criticized his use of impolite language. She suspended him from playing football for one week, but that afternoon Ball reduced the punishment to one day.
The suit seeks nominal damages and an injunction barring the school from enforcing the gender nonconforming students policy, which it says violates the First Amendment.
The school’s superintendent, vice principal and football coach didn’t immediately return requests for comment.