Lawsuit: Eau Claire Schools’ violate First Amendment

By M.D. Kittle

MADISON — Eau Claire Area School District teachers and staff believe parents have to “earn” the right to know about their child’s preferred gender identity at school, according to records filed in a federal lawsuit.

The complaint, brought by a local parents organization represented by America First Legal (AFL) and the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), alleges the school district, its superintendent and the school board have adopted policies that facilitate gender transitions that might occur at school without parental notification or consent.

The lawsuit claims staff underwent training on the Gender Support Plan that demanded “parents are not entitled to know their kids’ identities,” that they must “earn” that knowledge.

Filed in the U.S. District Court of Western Wisconsin, the lawsuit urges the court to enjoin the school district from using the policy because it violates the state and federal constitutional rights of parents to direct the upbringing of their children.

It’s the latest battle in the war on parental rights in Wisconsin school systems that have become strident Nanny States.

“Policies like Eau Claire’s blatantly violate parents’ constitutional rights to raise their children. School staff do not replace parents while their children are at school,” said Luke Berg, deputy counsel for the Milwaukee-based Institute for Law & Liberty. “A gender identity transition is a major event in a child’s life; schools must defer to parents about this.”

Administrators in Eau Claire’s public school district, according to the lawsuit, believe they know better.

According to the complaint, the district has adopted and trained its staff on a gender identity policy that enables minor students to change their gender identity at school by adopting a new name and pronouns, and using opposite-sex facilities without parental notice or consent.

One teacher posted a flyer and North High School declaring, “if your parents aren’t accepting of your identity, I’m your mom now.”

“Teachers have taken the Gender Identity Policy as a mandate to interfere with the parent/child relationship,” the lawsuit states.

The same training is overtly antagonistic toward religious parents, according to the complaint. The facilitator’s notes say that while parents’ objections to the “LGBTQIA+ agenda will likely be from religious parents, not all religion is the problem. Instead, it is the “weaponization of religion against queer people” that is the problem. That is, parents whose core religious beliefs conflict with the “LGBTQIA+” agenda are the problem.

America First Legal and WILL represent Parents Protecting Our Children, a local group of Eau Claire parents who have children in the Eau Claire Area School District. The lawsuit claims Eau Claire’s policy violates fundamental constitutionally recognized parental rights, including the right to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children. It also violates First Amendment guarantees to the free exercise of religion by concealing from parents their child’s struggle with gender identity issues and directly interfering with their right to teach and guide their children through gender identity issues in accordance with their religious beliefs.

It’s the latest lawsuit involving school policies that aim to cut parents out of important questions involving their children. WILL has also sued the Madison Area School District and Kettle Moraine School District on similar First Amendment claims.

A Waukesha County judge in June rejected Kettle Moraine’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

In the Madison case, a Dane County judge issued a partial injunction blocking the district from prohibiting staff from informing parents about a student’s gender identity, even when parents ask. The 2018 policy declared students “will be called by their affirmed name and pronouns regardless of parent/guardian permission to change their name and gender.”

In July, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled the Madison parents who filed the anonymous lawsuit have to reveal their identities to defending attorneys. Justice Brian Hagedorn, elected as a conservative, was the swing vote and author of the 4-3 decision.

Eau Claire Area School District officials could not be reached for comment Thursday.

America First Legal President Stephen Miller said the school district has adopted a “monstrous plan to secretly ‘change’ the genders of children as young as 5 — without parental consent — effectively subjecting them to unnatural ideological experiments contrary to their health and biology.”

“This revolutionary crusade to remake and reshape our children… must be extricated root and branch from our schools. America First Legal is leading the way in the fight to save our children from this lawless marxist indoctrination,” Miller said.

Empower Wisconsin | Sept. 9, 2022

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One response to “Lawsuit: Eau Claire Schools’ violate First Amendment”

  1. Mary Eileen Ameigh Avatar
    Mary Eileen Ameigh

    The school’s insurance companies can put the squash on all this. They don’t want to pay out for lunk head administrators. Where were these administrators educated? Parent choice in education!

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