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Madison schools blocked from enforcing transgender guidance

Published: Sep. 29, 2020 at 2:42 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2020 at 3:58 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A Dane Co. judge served an injunction Tuesday against Madison Metropolitan School District’s guidance when it comes to transgender students.

The order came as the plaintiffs in the case fought to remain anonymous. It was issued as part of their appeal of the circuit court’s determination that they couldn’t hide their identities. In his decision, Circuit Court Judge Frank Remington noted the plaintiffs have not shown they will be able to win nor have they shown how they will be irreparably harmed by being identified.

Nevertheless, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), which filed the lawsuit on behalf of 14 Madison parents, celebrated the partial win, with deputy council Luke Berg calling it an “important win” for parental rights.

“We are pleased Judge Remington issued this injunction that will require honesty when Madison Metropolitan School District staff interact with parents about critical matters impacting their child’s health and wellbeing,” he said.

WILL contends the district’s Guidance & Policies to Support Transgender, Non-binary & Gender-Expansive Students are unconstitutional. It also argues the distress of changing one’s gender identity could lead to health concerns and, as such, parents should be made aware of the decision.

WILL described MMSD guidance as allowing all of its students wanting to transition to a different gender identity to go by different names and pronouns without parental consent. District staff are also barred from telling the parents unless the child allows it and even encourages staff to deceive parents by using the students' legal names when talking to the families, the Milwaukee-based organization asserted.

An MMSD spokesperson Tim LeMonds disputed the conservative legal group’s claim that MMSD officials are encouraged to misrepresent or conceal anything from parents, saying that has never been how the district interprets the guidance. LeMonds said that district will follow the court’s order, adding that the what’s in question is guidance and not official policy.

“MMSD prioritizes working in collaboration with families to support our students and it is always our preferred method of support," he said. "MMSD will continue to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of every individual student to the best of our ability.”

When initially told about a pending lawsuit last December, MMSD spokesperson Tim Lemonds argued the district is committed to creating an inclusive and welcoming learning environment. He added that the district feels a “tremendous responsibility” toward providing a safe and non-discriminatory environment for its students.

“We have incredible transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive students, staff, and families throughout our district who we are very proud of, and we want our schools to be places where every child thrives,” he said at the time.

clarification: This story has been updated with the response from Madison Metropolitan School District. It also further clarified that the suit is over district guidance, not policy.

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