- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 20, 2020

Parents are suing a Wisconsin school district for adopting a policy that allows students of any age to transition to a different gender and use a different name while at school without parental notice or consent.

The policy, according to the religious-liberty law firm Alliance Defending Freedom, prevents school officials from communicating about the child’s choice to transition with parents if the student does not consent.

The parents charge that the school’s policy violates their parental rights, usurping the upbringing of their children under Wisconsin law.

“Many mental health and psychiatric professionals believe that children with gender dysphoria should not immediately transition and that transitioning may actually do significant harm,” said the 45-page complaint filed in state court.

The parents, who are anonymous in court documents, are asking the judge to halt the Madison Metropolitan School District’s policy, which was adopted in April 2018 in guidelines titled: “Guidance & Policies to Support Transgender, Non- binary & Gender-Expansive Students.”

The parents filing the case have children at 11 of the district’s schools, ranging from elementary to middle and high school.

“This is a life-altering decision that educators have no business making,” said Roger Brooks, senior counsel for ADF.

Tim LeMonds, a spokesman for the Madison Metropolitan School District, said the lawsuit has not been served, so he cannot comment until the district is able to review the allegations.

“MMSD prioritizes working in collaboration with families to support our students and it is always our preferred method of support. MMSD must also prioritize the safety and wellbeing of every individual student who walks through its doors each day,” he said in a statement.

“It is with this focus, the district stands by its guidance document on transgender and non-binary students, and recognizes its tremendous responsibility to uphold the right of every child to be educated in a safe, all-inclusive and nondiscriminatory learning environment,” Mr. LeMonds said.

The policy allows students to fill out a form, selecting a new name and pronouns to go by if the student chooses, and requires the teachers to use the new name rather than the child’s legal name. Not doing so would be considered a violation of the district’s policy, according to the complaint.

Teachers are prevented from placing the new name in the district’s official system and from disclosing to parents and guardians about the student’s decision to change gender identity unless the student gives permission for the disclosure.

“Furthermore, the policy directs staff to take affirmative steps to deceive parents, by ‘us[ing] the student’s affirmed name and pronouns in the school setting, and their legal name and pronouns with family,’” the lawsuit states.

The complaint also details a number of occasions when students were read books and instructed to watch videos about transgender individuals.

“The policy contains a number of specific provisions that interfere with the rights of parents to be fully involved in addressing these issues with their children. Consistent with federal law, the policy requires parental consent before students may change their name or gender in the district’s official records,” the lawsuit said.

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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