Parents sue Wisconsin school for letting children change pronouns without their consent

<span>Photograph: Jim Parkin/Alamy</span>
Photograph: Jim Parkin/Alamy

Plaintiffs claim affirmation of students’ gender undermines parents’ role in decision-making

Parents in Wisconsin filed a lawsuit against a school district over a policy that allows students to change their names and pronouns without parental consent, arguing that the policy is a violation of constitutional rights.

The lawsuit against the Kettle Moraine school district was filed in Waukesha county circuit court last Wednesday by two sets of parents via the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty – two conservative non-profits.

The school district has not commented, citing the continuing litigation.

The plaintiffs argue that the district undermined and overrode parents’ decision-making role regarding a “major and controversial” issue.

“Specifically,” it said, “the district has adopted a policy to allow, facilitate, and ‘affirm’ a minor student’s request to transition to a different gender identity at school – without parental consent and even over the parents’ objection.”

The parents of one student said they had withdrawn their 12-year-old from the district to protect the child’s mental health and “avoid daily affirmation of this new identity by teachers and staff” after the child “began questioning her gender”.

“The [couple’s] daughter expressed to her parents and school staff that she wanted to adopt a new male name and use male pronouns when she returned to school,” the lawsuit said.

“The [couple], however, decided that immediately transitioning would not be in their daughter’s best interest, based on their knowledge of her and extensive research into the issue. They wanted their daughter to take time to explore the cause of her feelings before allowing such significant change to her identity.”

The lawsuit alleges that the school district violated the parents’ constitutional rights when it began addressing their child using a male name and male pronouns without their consent and despite their objection.

The lawsuit also argues that addressing a child by pronouns and name different from those assigned at birth is a type of medical treatment for gender dysphoria. It claims only parents have the right to make such medical decisions for their children.

The parents are seeking “a declaration and injunction against the district’s policy to ensure that the Kettle Moraine school district will respect their role as parents”.