The Wisconsin Supreme Court has agreed to hear a major parental rights case involving a local school policy that allows schools to hide a student’s gender transition from his or her family.
The Madison Metropolitan School District policy says school staff “shall not disclose any information that may reveal a student’s gender identity to others, including parents or guardians and other school staff” unless the student has authorized such disclosure or unless the school is legally required to do so. The policy allows the school district to use the student’s preferred name and pronouns “in the school setting, and their legal name and pronouns with family.”
The result of the policy is that students, from elementary to high school, can identify as transgender at school without parental consent or notification – and with teachers and staff keeping the information hidden from parents.
A group of parents sued the school district, asserting the policy violates their constitutionally protected parental rights. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty are representing the parents.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear the case.
“School policies that exclude parents from children’s gender identity decisions are harming children across the country,” said Kate Anderson, director of ADF’s Center for Parental Rights. “We are hopeful that the Wisconsin Supreme Court will take the lead in protecting a parent’s right to be a parent.”
Luke Berg of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty called it an “important case.”
“The Madison Metropolitan School District cannot make decisions reserved for parents,” Anderson said.
Meanwhile, Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter to a Virginia school district Friday expressing concern about a similar policy. The Harrisonburg City Public Schools policy allows students to transition without parental consent or notification. Like the policy in Wisconsin, it permits teachers to hide information about the transition from parents: “If the parent/guardian is NOT aware, you should utilize the student’s preferred name at school but not in any communication with the parent/guardian.”
ADF represents a group of parents of students within the Harrisonburg City Public Schools district.
“Our clients are alarmed that HCPS is seeking to impose an ideologically driven one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with these delicate and sensitive issues that is harmful to children, while surreptitiously pushing parents out of the conversation,” the ADF letter said. “Our clients are concerned that this approach not only goes against the best interests of children enrolled in HCPS, but also violates state and federal constitutional rights.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Nito100
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.