Wisconsin high court agrees to hear case challenging MMSD gender identity policies

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 4:43 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A lawsuit alleging Madison Metropolitan School District’s gender identity policy violates the rights of parents to make health decisions on their child’s behalf will be heard by the state’s high court.

Conservative law group Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, as well as conservative advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), filed the case on behalf of a group of parents challenging the policy.

Doe v. MMSD was filed in the Dane County Circuit Court in 2020 after the district adopted the policies, which allows children of any age to transition to a different gender identity at school without parental consent. The two groups also allege that MMSD instructed its employees to deceive parents about the transition.

A 35-page booklet of guidance and policies from MMSD outlines how its staff can show support for transgender, nonbinary and gender-expansive students.

The packet states that students under the age of 18 are required to receive permission from a parent or legal guardian in order to change their name or gender marker on their educational records under federal law.

All personally identifiable and medical information related to students who are transgender, nonbinary and gender expansive must be kept confidential in accordance with state, local and federal laws. The packet continues, saying school staff are also not able to disclose information that would reveal a student’s gender identity to others, including parents or guardians and other school employees, unless they are legally required to do so or the student authorizes the release of information.

If a student chooses to use a different name, to transition at school or share their gender identity with staff or other students, it does not authorize school staff to disclose this personally identifiable or medical information.

A refusal to respect a student’s name and pronouns also violates the MMSD’s non-discrimination policy, the guide states.

ADF counsel Kate Anderson argues MMSD does not have the right to make decisions regarding a student’s gender identity.

“School policies that exclude parents from children’s gender identity decisions are harming children across the country,” Anderson said. “We are hopeful that the Wisconsin Supreme Court will take the lead in protecting a parent’s right to be a parent.”

The clients in the lawsuit are currently anonymous, but the Wisconsin Supreme Court will determine if they can proceed that way.

MMSD spokesperson Tim LeMonds stated that the district cannot comment on pending litigation.

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