ESCONDIDO, Calif. — A preliminary injunction blocking an Escondido Union School District privacy policy aimed at protecting transgender students’ identities was issued by a federal judge on Thursday, siding with the two teachers who sued the district over the policy earlier this year.

The lawsuit was brought by Rincon Middle School Teachers, Elizabeth Mirabelli and Lori Ann West, arguing that a policy that requires teachers to get a transgender students’ consent to disclose their identity to their parents was a violation of their First Amendment rights.

According to the lawsuit, EUSD teachers are required to refer to students by their preferred names and pronouns at school, while reverting to biological pronouns and legal names when speaking with the students’ parents.

Nondiscrimination policies that prevent harassment based on a students’ actual or perceived identity were not included in the scope of the case.

District officials say that the policy was put in place to protect transgender students who may not yet be comfortable with coming out to their parents. Only about one in three LGBTQ+ youth live in LGBTQ-affirming homes, according to a 2021 survey conduced by the Trevor Project.

However, Mirabelli and Ann West argued that the district’s policy forces them to lie to parents about issues that relate to their children’s well-being, contradicting other existing school policies. They also argued that the policy was a violation of their right to freedom of expression and free exercise of religion.

The U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez agreed with the teachers, temporarily striking down the privacy policy. In his decision, he argued that parental involvement is “essential to the healthy maturation of schoolchildren” and that the policy places adverse harm on all parties.

“… it harms the child who needs parental guidance and possibly mental health intervention to determine if (gender dysphoria) is organic or whether it is the result of bullying, peer pressure, or a fleeting impulse,” Benitez wrote. “It harms the parents by depriving them of the long recognized Fourteenth Amendment right to care, guide, and make health care decisions for their children. And finally, it harms plaintiffs who are compelled to violate the parent’s rights by forcing plaintiffs to conceal information they feel is critical for the welfare of their students — violating plaintiffs’ religious beliefs.”

The judgement also denied the motion by the school district and the California Department of Education, who was also a named party in the case, to dismiss the lawsuit.

In a statement, Escondido Union School District said, “Our leadership team is currently reviewing the decision.”

The full judgement from the court can be found below.