School District Allowed to Keep Child Gender Transitions From Parents, Court Rules

By Published on August 15, 2023

A federal appeals court ruled Monday that a Maryland school district can continue to keep students’ gender transitions from their parents.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit dismissed a coalition of parents’ lawsuit against Montgomery County Public Schools alleging that the district’s gender support plan, which allows students to change their gender without their parents’ permission, infringes on parental rights. The court ruled that because none of the parents had children who were transgender or were utilizing a gender support plan, there was no harm that allows the court to act, documents show.

“We agree with the analysis of the dissenting judge that parents have a right to complain about this school policy because it allows the school to keep secret from parents how it is treating their child at school and that such policies violate parental rights,” Frederick Claybrook Jr., the attorney for the plaintiffs, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Parents do not have to wait until they find out that damage has been done in secret before they may complain. Moreover, the policy just by being in place affects family dynamics, as the dissenting judge pointed out. We are actively considering next steps in the legal process.”

Montgomery County Public Schools’ gender support plan was adopted during the 2020-2021 school year to help students “feel comfortable expressing their gender identity,” according to the Monday opinion. The gender support plan allows students to record their change in name and pronouns while also detailing which bathrooms and locker rooms the student will correspond with their gender identity.

“MCPS [Montgomery County Public Schools] was successful in the challenge against our Gender Identity Guidelines,” a district spokesperson told the DCNF. “The appellate court returned the case to the district court and directed that it be dismissed. The case is resolved for now. MCPS supports the determination by the court.”

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At least 350 students within the district have filled out a Gender Support Plan over the past three years to change their gender at school, The Washington Post reported. The school district said they were not trying to keep student gender transitions from parents but if the student wanted privacy, “then we honor and respect that.”

“That does not mean their objections are invalid,” Judge A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr. said in his opinion. “In fact, they may be quite persuasive. But, by failing to show any injury to themselves, the parents’ opposition … reflects a policy disagreement. And policy disagreements should be addressed to elected policymakers at the ballot box, not to unelected judges in the courthouse.”

Muslim, Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Christian parents sued Montgomery County Public Schools in May after the school board alerted parents that they would no longer be notifying families of gender identity lessons and that parents would be unable to opt their children out of such lessons. The parents allege that the school district’s policy that prohibits them from opting their child out of LGBTQ lessons violates their religious beliefs and their ability to raise their kids.


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