Empower Wisconsin | Sept 30, 2020
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — A Dane County judge has issued a temporary injunction barring Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) employees from concealing from parents the gender identity their child may have adopted at school.
Circuit Court Judge Frank Remington issued the injunction last week in a parental rights lawsuit brought by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL). The district’s policy, which WILL alleges is built on lying or deceiving parents or guardians, is on hold while the lawsuit proceeds.
In his order, the judge enjoined MMSD, for now at least, “from applying or enforcing any policy, guideline, or practice reflected or recommended in its document entitled ‘Guidance & Policies to Support Transgender, Non-binary & Gender-Expansive Students’ in any manner that allows or requires District staff to conceal information or to answer untruthfully in response to any question that parents ask about their child at school, including information about the name and pronouns being used to address their child at school.”
“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,” said Luke Berg, deputy counsel for WILL, a Milwaukee public interest law firm.
“This is an important win for parental rights as the court considers this matter.”
As Empower Wisconsin previously reported, WILL in December warned that it would sue the school system if it did not change its policy that enables children, at any age, to change their gender identity at school without parental notice or consent. More so, the public-interest law firm alleges, the policy instructs district employees to “conceal and even deceive parents about the gender identity their son or daughter has adopted.”
On behalf of a group of Madison parents, WILL and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court against the school district in February for adopting and implementing policies that violate the rights of district parents.
District spokesman Tim LeMonds for the district said MMSD will follow the court’s injunction. He reiterated MMSD’s legal argument, that the district doesn’t have a policy, only guidance on student gender identity.
“The District has not and does not construe or interpret the Guidance to support or encourage MMSD officials to misrepresent or conceal anything from parents, and the Court did not otherwise require MMSD to change its existing approach,” LeMonds said.
He said the district prioritizes working with families to support students, but it will “continue to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of every individual student to the best of our ability.”
WILL’s lawsuit also argues that the district may not enable a gender identity transition at school without parental notice and consent, but the court declined to rule on that issue either way at this point.
The fact that a a judge in Dane County’s liberal court system issued an injunction may be an indicator that MMSD went too far in its policy or guidance.
“…(T)he Court’s ruling sends a clear warning message to the District that its policy is problematic, and that parents can expect transparency and honesty from teachers and District staff about their children,” the law firm said in its press release.