Our Stories

Brar v. Heritage Oak

Every child deserves to attend a safe and supportive school where they are treated with dignity and respect. As a state and as a country, we decided long ago that private places of public accommodation should not be able to discriminate - not based on race, not based on ability and not based on gender - and that every person should be treated with equal dignity and respect.


Public Counsel filed Brar v. Heritage Oak behalf of eight-year-old transgender student Nikki Brar and her parents Priya Shah and Jaspret Brar. The case intends to hold Heritage Oak Private Education and the school's parent company, Nobel Learning Communities, Inc., accountable for repeatedly discriminating against Nikki and refusing to treat her in accordance with her gender identity, in violation of California's Unruh Civil Rights Act. The case also argues that Heritage Oak and Nobel Learning falsely advertised itself as an open, affirming and nondiscriminatory learning environment.

Nikki's parents repeatedly informed Heritage Oak and Nobel Learning of the suffering that their daughter experienced - and that they and Naina experienced - when Nikki was forced to present herself as a boy. The family repeatedly sought to work with the school to improve conditions and reach a solution that would ensure Nikki was treated with dignity and respect and would benefit all Heritage Oak students, but their attempts were rebuffed time and again.

While significant attention has recently been paid to cases of discrimination against transgender students attending public schools, it's of critical importance that we ensure all children, in public school or private school, are met with dignity and respect and provided with a safe and supportive environment in which to learn, grow and succeed.

Public Counsel's Director of Opportunity Under Law, Mark Rosenbaum, put it best: "Being forced to leave school because you cannot be called by your own name and the correct pronouns or wear your own clothes powerfully communicates that you are somehow unworthy of equal treatment. That feeling doesn't just go away. It stays with you for life. And that's beyond wrong."


Nikki Brar is an eight-year-old girl from Orange County, California. Nikki is smart, kind, caring, and strong. Her favorite subject in school is science, her favorite color is silver and at home she enjoys roller skating, acting and playing board games with her older sister Naina. When she grows up, Nikki wants to "help children with all of their issues and struggles."