MADISON — The Kettle Moraine School District has been put on notice: Its policy allowing students to change their gender identity at school — without parental consent, and even over the objections of parents — violates parents’ constitutional rights.
That’s according to the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which this week sent a notice of claim to the district advising a lawsuit could be forthcoming.
The Milwaukee-based WILL and ADF are representing a group of Kettle Moraine parents, including a couple whose daughter experienced gender dysphoria, forcing them to withdraw her from school when the district told them it would allow her to change gender identity at school against their wishes.
“Changing gender identity is a huge decision, especially at a young age. Parents can and should be involved. And they have a right to expect that school officials will respect their decision about what is best for their child,” said WILL deputy counsel Luke Berg in a statement.
As the law firms note, the right of parents to “direct the upbringing and education of children under their control” is a fundamental and long-recognized “inherent right.” Parents, not schools, are the primary decision-makers in their minor children’s lives.
“Parents know their children best, and parents’ rights to make critical care choices for their children do not stop at the school door. School districts may not make serious, life-altering decisions for children without the knowledge and consent of parents.”Roger G. Brooks, ADF senior counsel said.
In Kettle Moraine, however, the school district has adopted a policy that disregards parents’ decision about how their children will be addressed at school, according to WILL and ADF.
This past school year, a couple’s daughter began to experience gender dysphoria and considered adopting a male identity, according to the notice. The family immediately sought professional and medical support for their daughter, but based on extensive research they also knew that immediately transitioning would not be in her best interest. The parents communicated their desire for the school and staff to refer to their daughter using her legal name and associated pronouns, yet the Kettle Moraine School District refused to honor their request, forcing them to withdraw their daughter from school.
Following counseling, their daughter realized her parents were right and has re-embraced her birth name and her nature as a girl. She is now enrolled in a different school district, the notice states.
“Many medical professionals believe that transitioning to a different gender identity at a young age can become self-reinforcing and even do long-term harm, and therefore recommend a cautious approach,” the press release states. “The Kettle Moraine School District’s policy disregards these medical professionals and instead takes this life-altering decision out of parents’ hands and places it with educators.”
Read the Notice of Claim here.