As a new parent, I have done a lot of research. When I found out I was pregnant, I learned as much as I could about how my baby was growing and developing inside me. I researched the best foods to eat and the foods to avoid. I read books and took classes to prepare myself for when I would finally be holding that tiny little human in my arms.
Once my son was born, my research didn’t stop. I want to know everything about him and how I can best take care of him.
This is not unique to me. Parents are invested in the well-being of their children.
Fourteen parents from eight families in Madison, Wisconsin have done their research, too. And they don’t like what they’re seeing in a Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) policy—a policy that the school district quietly implemented in 2018 with very little transparency or parental involvement.
That’s why these parents—represented by Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty and Alliance Defending Freedom—have filed a lawsuit against MMSD.
A policy to “disrupt the gender binary”
This policy proclaims that the school district believes children can choose their own gender and that the school district will strive to “disrupt the gender binary.” It includes approved lesson plans and books to help do just that, including children’s books such as “I am Jazz”—which praises the “transition” of a boy to living as a girl under the name Jazz Jennings.
Parents saw the impact of this policy change shortly after its implementation. In May 2018, a Madison elementary school played a teacher’s gender transition video to the whole school (that is, kindergarten through fifth grade students) without parental permission.
How would you feel if your kindergartener came home talking about the concept of gender identity without warning?
But that’s not even the worst of it.
The school district’s policy requires all school employees to support and participate in the social transition of children to living as the opposite sex at school—including use of a name, pronouns, and restrooms of the opposite sex— without parental notice or consent. And they are prohibited from informing parents.
In fact, the policy calls on employees to conceal and even actively deceive parents, requiring them to revert to calling the student by his or her given name and pronouns in front of the parent, and to keep all record of the child’s new gender identity out of the child’s school records—which parents have a legal right to see.
It is clear that the Madison school district is imposing a political agenda at the risk of these children.
An expert declaration
Dr. Stephen B. Levine, a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, submitted an expert declaration to the court in this case. In his declaration, Dr. Levine emphasizes the harm caused by a policy that calls on children and district employees to deceive parents:
"For a child to live radically different identities at home and at school, and to conceal what he or she perceives to be his or her true identity from parents, is psychologically unhealthy in itself, and could readily lead to additional psychological problems. Extended secrecy and a ‘double life’ concealed from the parents is rarely the path to psychological health. For this reason at least, schools should not support deceit of parents."
Dr. Levine also points to research that shows a “majority of children (in several studies, a large majority) who are diagnosed with gender dysphoria ‘desist’—that is, their gender dysphoria does not persist—by puberty or adulthood.” But according to some recent studies, children who socially transition—which this school district policy encourages—are less likely to achieve comfort living with the gender identity that aligns with their sex. In other words, children are being psychologically, and unnecessarily, trapped in a transgender identity.
And this puts children on a potentially dangerous path, all without the knowledge of their parents. As Dr. Levine explains:
"Putting a child or adolescent on a pathway towards life as a transgender person puts that individual at risk of a wide range of long-term or even life-long harms, including: sterilization (whether chemical or surgical) and associated regret and sense of loss… physical health risks associated with exposure to elevated levels of cross-sex hormones; surgical complications and life-long after-care; alienation of family relationships; inability to form healthy romantic relationships and attract a desirable mate; elevated mental health risks."
Does that sound like what is best for these children? Apparently, MMSD thinks so.
This is a major violation of parental rights. And doing this secretly, without parental consent, also violates the religious freedom of those families who believe that God has created two sexes, male and female, and that He does not make mistakes.
So these parents are taking a stand and challenging this school district policy.
They know what is best for their own children. And they will not allow them to be used as pawns to further a political agenda.
Sarah Kramer worked as an investigative reporter before joining the Alliance Defending Freedom team.
Editor's Note: This piece originally appeared on the Alliance Defending Freedom.