Home / Legal News / Madison school district threatened with lawsuit over transgender ‘policy’ (UPDATE)

Madison school district threatened with lawsuit over transgender ‘policy’ (UPDATE)

The Madison Metropolitan School District could be faced with a lawsuit over its stance on transgender students’ rights. The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty sent the district a demand letter on Tuesday, saying it had 45 days to change its policy or be subject to a lawsuit.

The letter, sent on behalf of 15 Madison parents with children in the school district, asks the district to remove policies that allow a student to change gender at school without parental consent. The document in question directs teachers and staff to use a transgender student’s registered name and gender, rather than the student’s preferred name and gender, in communications with parents, unless the student has given permission to do so otherwise. WILL argues the document deceives parents and violates their rights to be involved in significant decisions affecting their children’s health and well-being.

“In sensitive, personal matters involving children’s well-being, a public school district should not, and cannot, make decisions reserved for parents,” Rick Esenberg, WILL president and general counsel, said in a statement. “While MMSD may think it is operating in the best interests of children, they have adopted policies that violate crucial, constitutionally recognized parental rights.”

Tim LeMonds, Madison Metropolitan School District public information officer, said the school district does not have a identity policy, but rather “a guidance document that is based on practice, not policy.” The guidance document, which was adopted in 2018, cites student safety as the reason for keeping a student’s personal information confidential from parents.

“MMSD remains dedicated to creating an inclusive and welcoming learning environment that instills a sense of community for all our students and takes seriously our tremendous responsibility to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for students of all gender identities,” LeMonds said in an email to the Wisconsin Law Journal. “Our commitment to this and all other inclusive practices in our schools remains unchanged.”

The letter gives the school district until the end of January to change the policy or be subject to a lawsuit. LeMonds said the school district is will respectfully review the letter and issue a response accordingly.

About Michaela Paukner, mpaukner@wislawjournal.com

Michaela Paukner is the legal reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal. She can be reached at (414) 225-1825 or by email at mpaukner@wislawjournal.com.

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