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These Christian parents are suing a school to force teachers to out trans students without their consent

Vic Parsons February 19, 2020
Wisconsin: Christian parents sue to force teachers to out trans students

Stock image of a non-binary pupil at school. (Zackary Drucker/Broadly's Gender Spectrum)

A group of 14 parents are going to court to try to force teachers in Wisconsin into outing trans pupils to their parents without their consent.

The parents, who reportedly “fear” that their children are not out to them as trans or non-binary but are out to friends and teachers at school, are suing a school district board in Wisconsin in an attempt to change the rules that currently protect students’ privacy.

The 14 parents, identified only as ‘Jane and John Does’, want a judge to make the Wisconsin school district update its policy so that parents are informed when students express a different gender identity at school or show signs of gender dysphoria.

They claim that staff who support trans pupils socially transitioning at school, but use the child’s birth name and pronouns in official records and when communicating with parents, are violating the parents’ rights.

The lawsuit reveals parents’ fears that their children are being persuaded into being transgender, saying that “some professionals believe that ‘affirming’ a child’s alternate gender identity too quickly can ‘reinforce’ and ‘solidify’ gender dysphoria that otherwise might resolve itself”.

But a spokesperson for the school district backed the current policy, saying that while open communication with families is preferred, it “must also prioritise the safety and wellbeing of every individual student who walks through its doors each day”.

Noting that staff members are supposed to determine whether a student has full, partial or no family support for exploring their gender identity, the spokesperson said: “It is with this focus, the district stands by its guidance document on transgender and non-binary students, and recognises its tremendous responsibility to uphold the right of every child to be educated in a safe, all-inclusive and nondiscriminatory learning environment.”

The parents bringing the case against this policy say that instead of affirming a child’s gender identity, they would prefer to “instead pursue a treatment approach to help them identify and address the underlying causes of the dysphoria and learn to embrace their biological sex”.

Eleven of the parents are Christians who believe that the “sex each of us is born with is a gift, not an arbitrary imposition”.

The lawsuit has been filed in Dane County District Court, Wisconsin, and follows the district’s refusal last year to change its policy in the face of similar demands.

In 2019, a conservative law firm threatened legal action against the school district over a policy that bans teachers from outing their students.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty sent a letter of demand to Madison School District, seeking the repeal of its policy on support for transgender, non-binary and gender-expansive students.

The disputed policy, issued in 2018, directs that “school staff shall not disclose any information that may reveal a student’s gender identity to others, including parents or guardians and other school staff, unless legally required to do so or unless the student has authorised such disclosure”.

Studies have found that consistently using the correct name and pronouns for trans people can reduce their rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts to almost the same levels as their cisgender counterparts.

More: lawsuit, outing, trans pupils, Wisconsin

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