Madison schools sued over gender identity policy

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- The Madison Metropolitan School District is being sued over its gender identity policy. The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit in Dane County on behalf of a group of 14 Madison parents opposed to the policy.

“Madison schools have adopted policies that violate constitutionally recognized parental rights. A public school district should not, and cannot, make decisions reserved for parents,” WILL President and General Counsel Rick Esenberg said.

The current MMSD Guidance & Policies to Support Transgender, Non-binary & Gender-Expansive Students does not require parental consent before kids alter their gender identity at school and staff is forbidden to discuss these matters with parents without the child's consent.

The conservative group argues the policy violates the parents' constitutional rights. In December, it threatened the district to change its policy or face a lawsuit.

MMSD spokesperson Tim LeMonds told NBC15 on Tuesday morning that the district has not been served with the lawsuit, therefore the district does not have a response at this time. However, he added that the district stands by its policy for transgender and non-binary students.

"MMSD prioritizes working in collaboration with families to support our students and it is always our preferred method of support," he said. "MMSD must also prioritize the safety and wellbeing of every individual student who walks through its doors each day."

WILL described MMSD policy 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.

Through the lawsuit, the parents argue their rights to make health care choices for their children are being violated and that, by withholding gender dysphoria information, which they say is "often associated with significant psychological distress," the district is prevent parents from getting their children mental health care. They also state the policy violates the Wisconsin's "general rule" requiring parents give consent to medical treatments for their children.

Finally, they say some of the parents may have religious concerns over their child's gender identity issues and the policy amounts to their rights to raise the children in line with their religious beliefs.



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