Fact Check

Sunny Oaks Elementary Forces Kids to Cross Dress for LGBT Week

A social media rumor about forced cross-dressing at Sunny Oaks Elementary School appears to have been created from whole cloth.

Published May 20, 2016

Students of Sunny Oaks Elementary School in California were forced to cross dress for LGBT week.

On 19 May 2016, the web site The Free Patriot published an article reporting that "Sunny Oaks Elementary School in California" was forcing young children to "cross dress" in honor of LGBT week:

Sunny Oaks Elementary School in California is making headlines this week for the absurd thing they are having their students participate in.

The staff is under question by parents and media after a student came home complaining to her parents that she had to dress up in boys clothes over her dress that she wore to school.

Parents of the girl said to Fox News, “It is bad enough that our society is now forcing us to allow transgenders into the wrong bathrooms, but for our school system to teach our kids that this is normal is absolutely wrong.”

Although the superintendent did not know of the transgender desensitization event at school he did say that he had approved of LGBT week for students to learn about the prejudice of society against this group of people.

All events for the week have been cancelled after making media headlines.

Although it was twice mentioned that the purported controversy was "making headlines," we were unable to locate a single news item from May 2016 (or any other time) about mandatory cross-dressing at any U.S. school. Neither did we find a record of any "Sunny Oaks Elementary School" existing anywhere in the state of California. Needless to say, Fox News didn't speak to any parents of students at the non-existent school, and all references to the supposed controversy linked back to the above-referenced item.

A reverse image search for the appended photograph of "Sunny Oaks Elementary" led primarily to pages about other fake news items that were utilizing the same image. (For example, in 2013, the photograph was attached to a fake news claim about a student purportedly suspended for saying "Merry Christmas" to a teacher.)

The Free Patriot is much like the unreliable web site American News, publishing a variety of outrage-inducing claims of questionable veracity.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.

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