The Metropolitan Madison School District is being asked to respect the rights of parents and inform them when a student is seeking to change their gender identity with the district.
Representing fifteen parents in the district, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) issued a “demand letter” to “remove policies enabling children, of any age, to change gender identity at school without parental notice or consent, and policies instructing district employees to conceal and even deceive parents about the gender identity their son or daughter has adopted at school,” according to a release Wednesday.
If the district does not comply with the request within 45 days, WILL could sue the school district to force it to change the policies regarding gender identity of minor school children.
“In sensitive, personal matters involving children’s well-being, a public school district should not, and cannot, make decisions reserved for parents,” said Rick Esenberg, president and general counsel for WILL. “While MMSD may think it is operating in the best interests of children, they have adopted policies that violate crucial, constitutionally recognized parental rights.”
Specifically, WILL identified the following polices that were adopted in April 2018.
- Children of any age can transition to a different gender identity at school, by changing their name and pronouns, without parental notice or consent.
- District employees are prohibited from notifying parents, without the child’s consent, about their child’s gender identity at school.
- District employees are even instructed to deceive parents by using the child’s legal name and pronouns with family, while using the different name and pronouns adopted by the child in the school setting.
The following reasons were cited by WILL for the need by the Madison school district to change their policies:
- Parents have the right to make important medical decisions on their children’s behalf. Transitioning to a different gender identity is a significant psychotherapeutic intervention that requires parental notice or consent. There are multiple treatment options for gender dysphoria, some of which don’t involve transitioning, so parents must be involved in which treatment path to pursue.
- Gender dysphoria is often associated with significant psychological distress and requires support from mental health professionals. MMSD’s policy interferes with parents’ ability to provide the support their children may urgently need.
- The policies also conflict with the “general rule [in Wisconsin] requiring parents to give consent to medical treatment for their children.”
- For some parents, gender identity issues also have religious significance. MMSD’s policy interferes with parents’ free-exercise rights to raise their children in accordance with their religious beliefs and to select a treatment approach consistent with those beliefs.
In a statement to the Wisconsin State Journal, district spokesman Tim LeMonds said the district is committed to the policies in question.
“Our commitment to this and all other inclusive practices in our schools remain unchanged,” LeMonds told the newspaper.