A group of fourteen unnamed parents – most of whom are Christian – are suing the Madison, Wisconsin school district over its policy to allow students to change their name and pronouns without informing their parents.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) is a conservative legal organization, is representing these families, who believe the Madison Metropolitan School District’s transgender student guidelines violate the state constitution’s due process and freedom of religion provisions.
The district’s policy does not allow students to change their names or pronouns in any official capacity without their parents’ permission, but it does allow them to go by a name that is different than their legal one. It also prohibits teachers from informing parents of any name or pronoun change without explicit consent from the child.
“Disclosing a student’s personal information such as gender identity or sexual orientation can pose imminent safety risks,” the policy states, “such as losing family support and housing.”
As such, teachers are required to use a student’s legal name with their family and their chosen name at school unless instructed otherwise by the student.
WILL maintains that this policy denies parents “the right to make important healthcare decisions on their children’s behalf,” arguing that using the right pronouns to refer to a transgender person with the correct pronouns is “a significant psychotherapeutic intervention that requires parental notice or consent.”
The firm also claims the policy “interferes with parents’ [religious] free-exercise rights,” specifically the right for a parent to impose their religions’ views on transgender people on their children. The complaint claims that Wisconsin’s religious protections are stronger than the U.S. Constitution’s.
The lawsuit emphasizes that if any of the plaintiffs’ children showed signs of “gender dysphoria,” the parents would “pursue a treatment approach to help [their children] identify and address the underlying causes of the dysphoria and learn to embrace their biological sex.”
That is, these parents would put their children in conversion therapy. A 2019 study found that conversion therapy for transgender people lead to an increased risk of suicide attempts.
“There is no compelling government interest in keeping secret from parents that their child is dealing with gender dysphoria,” the lawsuit argues.
It also uses anti-transgender language, like “transgenderism” and says that the plaintiffs “believe that the two sexes are a core part of God’s intended design for humanity and that the sex each of us is born with is a gift, not an arbitrary imposition.” It then cites the Bible, directing attention to Genesis, Matthew, and Mark.
Eleven of the fourteen plaintiffs are “active Christians who seek to apply their beliefs to everything they teach their children, including about their sex,” according to the complaint.
In December, WILL sent a letter to the school district warning them of a lawsuit if they did not change their policy by January 31. According to WILL, the district responded on the final day to say they will not be making any changes.
The Associated Press reached out to district spokesman Tim LeMonds, who will not comment until the lawsuit has been reviewed by the district.