Judge Bans Madison, Wisconsin School District from Deceiving Parents About Children’s Gender Identity

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AP Photo/Ty Wright

A judge in Madison, Wisconsin, issued an injunction last week upholding parental rights by prohibiting staff of the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) from lying to or deceiving parents about gender identities their children may have adopted while at school.

Dane County Circuit Court Judge Frank Remington wrote in his opinion the district is barred “from applying or enforcing any policy, guideline, or practice” suggested in its policy, titled “Guidance & Policies to Support Transgender, Non-binary & Gender-Expansive Students,” that encourages staff “to conceal information or to answer untruthfully in response to any question that parents ask about their child at school, including information about the name and pronouns being used to address their child at school.”

Remington’s order, however, does not require district staff to notify parents if their child is transitioning to another gender.

In February, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed the lawsuit on behalf of Dane County parents.

The MMSD’s school policy, which was issued in April 2018, contains information provided by LGBTQ rights activist group GLSEN. The policies challenged in the lawsuit allow children of any age to change their gender identity at school without parental notice or consent.

Furthermore, the policy states that 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 legally required to do so or unless the student has authorized such disclosure.”

According to Wisconsin State Journal, the school district responded it will follow the court’s order, but claimed its policy was not intended to “misrepresent or conceal anything from parents.”

WILL issued a demand letter in December, urging the district to change its policy in order to avoid a lawsuit, but MMSD refused to do so.

In May, Remington ordered the names of parents filing the lawsuit be disclosed to the school district attorneys. Initially, WILL represented 14 parents, but the number has now dropped to six. The organization has asked the Wisconsin Court of Appeals to allow the case to proceed without releasing the names of the parents.

Though WILL states the ruling does not go far enough, Deputy Counsel Luke Berg said the injunction “is an important win for parental rights as the court considers this matter” further.

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