EXCLUSIVE: Parents Group Challenges New York School District Over ‘Speech Codes’ On Pronouns

Transgender symbol and pencils with the color of Lgbt flag on the blackboard.
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A parental rights group filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday accusing a New York school district of establishing “speech codes” that violate the First Amendment rights of conservative students, according to documents first shared with The Daily Wire.

The suit was filed by Parents Defending Education against Croton-Harmon Union Free School District north of New York City over its harassment and discrimination policies. It argues that the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of students have been violated by the policies, which include requirements for students to use the “preferred pronouns” of others.

“The District has adopted multiple ‘harassment’ policies that prohibit a broad swath of controversial speech at the heart of the First Amendment,” the lawsuit says. “In so doing, the District unconstitutionally discriminates based on viewpoint, requires a student to affirm another student’s gender identity when inconsistent with that student’s sex, prohibits a substantial amount of protected speech, and uses vague terms that an average student cannot understand.”

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The suit is asking for the judge to rule that the district policies 0110, 0110-R, 0115, 0115-R, 0115-E, 5300, 4526, and 4526-R are unconstitutional. These policies “punish students for their speech and compel them to mouth support for the District’s preferred views at all times of day, whether at school or not,” according to the suit.

In the suit, Parents Defending Education noted that its members included multiple parents who had students in the district who felt like their ability to speak freely had been restricted.

The challenged policies describe discrimination as including “restrictions on the use of names or pronouns,” and include an acceptable use policy for electronics about the sending of “hate mail.” Additionally, the policies restrict speech determined to be “offensive,” “disparaging,” “degrading,” “derogatory,” “intimidating,” or “demeaning.”

According to Parents Defending Education, the policies are overly broad and allow students to be punished for their conservative opinions.

“Speech codes punish students for unpopular speech labeled as ‘harassment,’ ‘bullying,’ ‘hate speech,’ or ‘incivility’ — categories so broad that school officials can use them to ban speech based on one’s firmly held views including religious views, or to compel speech contrary to those views,” the suit says. “When these policies impose vague, overbroad, or viewpoint-based restrictions on speech, they are unconstitutional.”


Parents Defending Education has been active across the country in efforts to push for accountability and transparency at public schools.

“Over the past century, the Supreme Court has made abundantly clear that students have robust First Amendment rights – and that education officials may not trample on these rights at their pleasure,” Parents Defending Education President Nicole Neily said in a statement to The Daily Wire. “Silencing unpopular viewpoints and compelling the speech of students in a public school system is fundamentally un-American.”

Croton-Harmon Union Free School District did not respond to a request for comment.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  EXCLUSIVE: Parents Group Challenges New York School District Over ‘Speech Codes’ On Pronouns