Parents Defending Education is suing the Linn-Mar Community School District near Cedar Rapids over so-called “gender support plans,” which the group says were concealed from parents.
“Nearly a century of Supreme Court precedent makes two things clear: parents have a constitutional liberty interest in the care, custody, and control of their children, and students do not abandon their First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse gate,” states the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa.
The Linn-Mar district is “flouting both of these constitutional guarantees,” the lawsuit claims, by allowing children to make “fundamentally important decisions concerning their gender identity without any parental involvement and to then hide these decisions from their parents.”
Students as young as 12 can work with their school to put together a “gender support plan” under a district policy dubbed “Transgender and Students Nonconforming to Gender Role Stereotypes.”
“Any student in seventh grade or older will have priority of their support plan over their parent/guardian,” the policy states.
Parents cannot be alerted about their child’s gender identity change unless the student explicitly gives his or her consent, the district says.
“The district shall not disclose information that may reveal a student’s transgender status to others including but not limited to other students, parents, and school staff unless legally required to do so (such as national standardized testing, drivers permits, transcripts, etc.), or unless the student has authorized such disclosure,” says the policy.
The policy also specifies that gender support plans will be kept in the student’s “temporary” records rather than their permanent records.
Parents Defending Education argues that the district made this move on purpose so that “records related to the gender support plan will never be accessible to parents” since parents have the right to access their children’s permanent records under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
Additionally, school staff and other students must use students’ preferred pronouns.
“Every student has the right to be addressed by a name and pronoun that corresponds to their gender identity,” the school’s gender policy states.
“An intentional and/or persistent refusal by staff or students to respect a student’s gender identity is a violation of school board policies,” the gender policy says, citing the district’s Anti-Bullying and Anti-Harassment policy, Equal Education Opportunity policy, and the district’s Title IX policy.
Students can be suspended or even expelled, and staff can be fired for violating those policies.
“Linn-Mar’s gender policy demonstrates a deep contempt for the constitutional rights of its students and families,” said Parents Defending Education President Nicole Neily in a statement.
“It has been clearly established by the federal court system over the past 100 years that parents have a right to direct the upbringing of their children, and we are proud to fight on behalf of our members to put a stop to these unconstitutional policies,” Neily said.
The school board voted for the policy in April despite passionate opposition from parents who showed up to the school board meeting to protest it.
“Look at your track record, guys. You’ve been whining about enrollment rates, and you wonder why?” a mom said, adding that she is calling on the board members to resign.
“You’ll unethically hide information from parents because someone can say ‘I’m a girl’ while having a penis or a boy while having a vagina, and that has to be followed,” she said. “You’re blatantly refusing to keep them safe, to educate them, and to keep them children.”
“Please vote no,” pleaded a dad.