Parents sue school for letting kids use chosen name and pronouns without their permission

Parents claim that a school using a student's name and pronouns violates their constitutional rights

A group of parents in Wisconsin, US, have filed a lawsuit against their children’s school over a policy that allows students to go by their chosen name and pronouns without telling their parents.

The parents claim that by allowing children to use different pronouns or a different name, the school has violated their “fundamental constitutional right” to “raise their children”.

Studies have found that consistently using the correct name or pronouns for young trans people reduces the likelihood they will become anxious, depressed and suicidal. Attempting to persuade a child not to be trans, also known as “conversion therapy”, has the opposite effect and has been found to cause “severe psychological distress”.

The parents’ lawsuit is being brought by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian law firm that supports making consensual LGBT+ sex illegal and has been designated an anti-LGBT+ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center since 2016.

Conservative non-profit Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, known for opposing trans student Gavin Grimm’s long-running legal fight to be allowed to use the boys’ bathrooms at school, is also backing the case. In August, after seven years of court cases, Grimm won $1.3 million in compensation for the school’s refusal to let him use the boys’ bathrooms.

“The Kettle Moraine School District has violated this foundational right by undermining and overriding parents’ decision-making role with respect to a major and controversial issue,” the lawsuit states.

It continues: “Specifically, 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 lawsuit also cites Kenneth Zucker, a discredited Canadian doctor who was sacked from a gender identity clinic because of concerns about his attempts to “cure” trans children, referencing his 1995 book as evidence that “the causes of transgenderism and gender dysphoria are still largely unknown”.

The parents claim that one of them was “forced” to withdraw their child from the school in order to “protect [him] and to preserve their parental role”.

The lawsuit suggests that this 12-year-old is a trans boy, who, according to the legal filing, had begun questioning his gender in December 2020. After expressing his wish to “adopt a new male name and use male pronouns” at school – which his parents decided would “not be in their [sons] best interest” – the parents called the school to ask that staff continue using his legal name and female pronouns.

The principle of the school refused, saying that “school staff would refer to [him] using whatever name and pronouns [he] wanted while at school, even over [his] parents’ objection”.

This policy of “allowing minor students to socially transition to a different gender identity at school without parental consent, and even over the parents’ objection”, the lawsuit alleges, violates their rights as parents.

According to The Guardian, the school did not respond to requests for comment, citing the pending litigation.