The Madison Metropolitan School District policy of not telling parents if their child claims to be transgender can remain in place while a legal battle unfolds over whether or not it is constitutional, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled on Friday.
The district is currently being sued by a seven sets of parents over the policy which prevents school officials from outing students to their relatives without their consent.
“This action seeks to vindicate parents’ 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 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” the complaint states.
The complaint continued, “even more, the Madison School District directs its teachers and staff to deceive parents by reverting to the child’s birth name and corresponding pronouns whenever the child’s parents are nearby. These policies violate Plaintiffs’ rights as parents.”
The parents are being represented by conservative legal groups Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) and the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
“The experiment is treating children as if they’re the opposite sex,” Luke Berg, at attorney for WILL, told local station WKOW in May. “And parents have a right to decide whether they want their children to be part of this experiment or not.”
Lawyers for the school district argued that the policy, which was adopted in 2018, is meant to create a comfortable learning environment for students.
“We’re talking about the school respecting the decision of a child to go by a different name or set of pronouns at school and respecting that confidentiality,” Adam Prinsen, an attorney for gender equity groups at Madison West, Madison Memorial, and LaFollette high schools, told the news station. “The school is not intervening in the home.”
In addition to ruling that the policy may remain in place, Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Brian Hagedorn ruled against the parents request to keep their identities hidden from the defendants out of fear of retaliation.
“The Court’s decision today allows MMSD to continue to protect youth by allowing them to be who they are without fear of being outed against their will, providing them with the freedom and safety to explore their identity on their own terms,” Chris Donahoe, staff attorney for the ACLU of Wisconsin, said in a statement.
According to a report from The Hill, Justice Patience Drake Roggensack wrote in a dissenting opinion that the state Supreme Court had abdicated its responsibility by “choosing not to address the critical issue on which this case turns: the constitutional right of parents to raise their children as they see fit.”