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Parents sue Wisconsin school district over transgender policy they say allows kids to 'socially transition' without their knowledge

'A public school district should not, and cannot, make decisions reserved for parents'

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A group of parents in Wisconsin isn't happy with a public school policy that they say allows teachers to affirm their children's "gender identity" without their knowledge and consent, and they're taking the matter to court.

According to a 19-page lawsuit filed on Tuesday, Madison Metropolitan School District's policies allow children to "socially transition to a different gender identity at school without parental notice or consent, requires all teachers to enable this transition, and then prohibits teachers from communicating with parents about this potentially life-altering choice without the child's consent."

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty against the district on behalf of 14 parents who are not named in the court document.

"This action seeks to vindicate parents' fundamental and constitutional right to direct the upbringing of their children," WILL's lawsuit contends. "The Madison Metropolitan School District has violated this important right by adopting a policy designed to circumvent parental involvement in a pivotal decision affecting their children's health and future. The policy enables children, of any age, to socially transition to a different gender identity at school without parental notice or consent."

While parental consent is needed before a child's legal name can be changed legally in the district's official records, school district policy announced in 2018 says that students can be called by their preferred name and gender pronouns without parental permission, according to the Associated Press.

The lawsuit also claims that the school district's policy "directs its teachers and staff to deceive parents by reverting to the child's birth name and corresponding pronouns whenever the child's parents are nearby" and that it bars teachers from telling parents about their children's "gender identity" as well as chosen names or pronouns being used for them at school "unless legally required to do so or unless the student has authorized such disclosure."

In addition to other concerns described in the legal complaint, "for some Plaintiffs, gender identity issues also have deep religious significance," according to the lawsuit. It goes on to say that 11 of the plaintiffs are active Christians who seek to apply their beliefs to everything they teach their children, including about their sex," and that "believe that the two sexes are a core part of God's intended design for humanity."

In a statement about the lawsuit on Tuesday, WILL President and general counsel Rick Esenberg said, "Madison schools have adopted policies that violate constitutionally recognized parental rights. A public school district should not, and cannot, make decisions reserved for parents."

A school district spokesperson told the Associated Press on Tuesday that the district hadn't been served with the lawsuit and declined to comment to the outlet on the matter, but said that the district stands by its policy.

WILL also sent a legal letter to the school district in December asking them to change the policies.

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