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New Hampshire School District Says in Court Filing That They Have 'No Duty' to Inform Parents About Transgender Behavior

A New Hampshire school district has argued in legal filings that they have no duty to inform parents when students are involved in transgender behavior.

In documents filed on Wednesday, the Manchester School District said that they do not need to inform parents about their children wanting to use a different name or pronoun.

“(T)his motion can be easily resolved by answering one discrete question: Do school districts have a legally enforceable duty to inform parents when a student uses a name or gender pronoun different than that assigned at birth? Because the answer to this question is no, the Complaint should be dismissed,” Manchester’s motion, which was obtained by the NH Journal, states.

The motion was filed in response to a mother, identified only as Jane Doe in the filings, who is suing the district for keeping her child’s gender confusion expressed at school a secret from their family.

Last Fall, the mother found out that her child was going by a different name and gender at school. The parent went to the school and spoke to officials, including the guidance counselor, to let them know that she wanted her child to be referred to by their legal name and biological gender.

The lawsuit claims that though the school officials agreed with her at the time, she later received an email from the principal saying that her wishes would not be possible to comply with under the district’s policy. They told her that the school is required to keep these matters secret from the parents if that is what the child wants.

At the time, the policy said that “school personnel should not disclose information that may reveal a student’s transgender status or gender-nonconforming presentation to others, including parents and other school personnel, unless legally required to do so or unless the student has authorized such disclosure.”

In the weeks after the lawsuit was filed, the school board removed the phrase “including parents and other school personnel,” and added, “Nothing herein shall be construed to change the obligation of the school to take action when student safety is concerned.”

Concord-based attorney Richard Lehmann, who is representing the mother, told the Union-Leader that the policy change was not good enough.

“The proposal goes nowhere near far enough,” said Lehmann. “For the very simple reason it encourages school personnel to lie to parents. I can’t imagine a context where it’s appropriate for school personnel to lie to parents about their children. Parents are better suited than school employees to look after the best interests of their children.”

The NH  Journal reports that “even if the staffers agree to use the child’s biological gender identity when speaking with the mother, they would be obligated to lie and not tell the mother if the child wished to be identified as something else, according to the lawsuit.”

In their latest motion, the school argued that the mother has no rights regarding her child’s “gender identity” when they are at school.

“Whatever the scope of a parent’s rights vis-a-vis their transgender or gender-nonconforming children, they do not include the right to force a school district to act as a conduit for the parent’s exercise of those rights in this fashion,” the motion states. They claim that this is not interfering with parental rights, because she is still free to use the child’s biological gender and legal name at home.

The mother is asking the court to declare the policy unconstitutional, issue an injunction prohibiting the Manchester School District from enforcing or training staff to enforce the policy, provide damages, and order the district to cover any legal fees incurred.

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