A group of parents filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging the Madison school district’s transgender policy is unconstitutional because it prohibits teachers and staff from informing parents that their children want to switch sexes.
Conservative law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty filed the lawsuit on the parents’ behalf in Dane County Circuit Court.
According to the lawsuit, Madison schools adopted a policy in 2018 that states a person’s gender identity can be male, female, a blend of both or neither and is determined by person’s sense of self. The policy states that the district is committed to affirming each student’s self-designated gender identity and the district will strive to “disrupt the gender binary” with books and lessons stating that everyone has the right to choose their gender.
The district’s policy interferes with parents’ right to direct their own children’s health treatment and religious upbringing, the suit states. Eleven of the parents are Christians and believe the “sex each of us is born with is a gift, not an arbitrary imposition.”
A policy affecting such fundamental rights must protect a compelling government interest in the most narrowly tailored and least restrictive ways. The suit says there is no such interest in “keeping secret from parents that their child is dealing with gender dysphoria.”
Brian Juchems, co-director at GSAFE, a support and advocacy group for LGBTQ students, said Madison’s policies provide “space for students to understand their identity while building confidence to tell their parents.”
He said most state school districts prohibit discrimination against transgender students, but few have adopted formal procedures like Madison to guide staff in providing support.
He also agrees parents should be in the conversation when a student is ready. “Telling your child that you will love and support them no matter who they are is a way for families to make it safer for the child to have that conversation
This action seeks to vindicate parents’ fundamental and constitutional right to direct the upbringing of their children. The Madison Metropolitan School District has violated this important right by adopting a policy designed to circumvent parental involvement in a pivotal decision affecting their children’s health and future. The policy enables children, of any age, to socially transition to a different gender identity at school without parental notice or consent, requires all teachers to enable this transition, and then prohibits teachers from communicating with parents about this potentially life-altering choice without the child’s consent. Even more, the Madison School District directs its teachers and staff to deceive parents by reverting to the child’s birth name and corresponding pronouns whenever the child’s parents are nearby. These policies violate Plaintiffs’ rights as parents.