A court ruled against a Wisconsin school district policy that allowed teachers and officials to address students by new names and pronouns without parental consent.
Waukesha Circuit County Court sided with two sets of parents in a Tuesday ruling against a Kettle Moraine School District policy that allowed school officials to refer to students by new names and pronouns without parental consent. The court ruled that the policy violated parental rights, saying parents should know about any changes.
“The School District could not administer medicine to a student without parental consent. The School District could not require or allow a student to participate in a sport without parental consent. Likewise, the School District cannot change the pronoun of a student without parental consent without impinging on a fundamental liberty interest of the parents,” wrote Circuit Court Judge Michael Maxwell.
The case began after two sets of parents, represented by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty and the Alliance Defending Freedom, sued the school district in November 2021 over the policy.
One of the sets of parents said they took their 12-year-old daughter out of the Kettle Moraine school system after finding out that her teachers were referring to their daughter by a male name and using male pronouns without their knowledge. The girl ended up deciding to stop identifying as a boy.
After protesting the matter, the parents say that the school cited its policy that said educators did not need parental consent to use a different pronoun or name than those given by the parents.
“The School District abrogated the parental rights of [the parents] on how to medically treat [their child] when the district decided to socially affirm [the child] at school despite [the parents] requesting it does not. Through its policy of disregarding parental wishes on a medical or health related decision and with how fast questioning one’s gender can arise, [the parents] are at real risk of being harmed,” the court decision said.
Lawyers for ADF and WILL celebrated the decision, saying it was a “major win for parental rights.”
“The court confirmed that parents, not educators or school faculty, have the right to decide whether a social transition is in their own child’s best interests. The decision should be a warning to the many districts across the country with similar policies to exclude parents from gender transitions at school,” WILL deputy counsel Luke Berg said.