Court Halts District Policy Telling School Staff to Conceal Children’s ‘Affirmed Name and Pronouns’ From Parents

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MADISON, Wisc. — A circuit court judge in Wisconsin has placed an injunction on a Madison Metropolitan School District policy to the extent that it instructed staff to keep secret from parents that their son or daughter is being referred to with transgender pronouns at school — unless the child explicitly gives their permission.

“Defendant Madison Metropolitan School District is hereby enjoined, pending Plaintiffs’ appeal, from applying or enforcing any policy, guideline, or practice reflected or recommended … in any manner that allows or requires District 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,” wrote Judge Frank Remington.

A number of anonymous parents had filed a lawsuit via the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty in February to “vindicate [their] 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 legal complaint said.

“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.”

In 2o18, the school district adopted “Guidance & Policies to Support Transgender, Non-Binary & Gender-Expansive Students,” which allows students who think they are transgender to choose an “affirmed name and pronouns” that can be used at school.

While parental consent is required for official name changes in the district system, the policy permits the child to request the preferred names and pronouns “regardless of parent/guardian permission to change their name and gender in [the District’s] systems.” Any refusal by staff to use the new name and pronouns is “a violation of the [District’s] non-discrimination policy.”

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Staff, however, may not disclose the child’s “gender identity” changes to “parents or guardians … unless legally required to do so or unless the student has authorized such disclosure.” The policy says that officials are to “us[e] the student’s affirmed name and pronouns in the school setting, and their legal name and pronouns with family.”

According to the lawsuit, a training video says that this is to be especially followed if the parents are not supportive of transgenderism, unless the child specifically gives his or her permission.

On Monday, Judge Remington granted an injunction — pending appeal — against the non-disclosure section of the policy, but also added, “This injunction does not create an affirmative obligation to disclose information if that obligation does not already exist at law and shall not require or allow district staff to disclose any information that they are otherwise prohibited from disclosing to parents by any state or federal law or regulation.”

Read the ruling in full here.

The religious liberties group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which also represented the parents in court, applauded the development on Tuesday.

“It should go without saying that school district staff should be honest with parents, especially when it comes to critical matters concerning their children, but we are pleased that the court has issued an order now requiring it,” said ADF Senior Counsel Roger Brooks in a statement.

“As this case moves forward, we will continue to argue for our clients’ legitimate concern over the Madison Metropolitan School District’s policy of deceiving parents and excluding them from profound decisions involving the wellbeing of their own children.”

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