Luke Berg, deputy counsel of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), explains that the case is against the Kettle Moraine School District, which has an unwritten policy to, upon request from a child and without parental consent, affirm and treat children as if they are the opposite sex at school.
One of the families represented has a daughter who had struggled with her gender identity and for a time thought she wanted to be a boy. The school granted her request to be called by a different name and be referred to with male pronouns at school. After researching it, her parents decided that was not best for their daughter, and they told the school they wanted the school to refer to her using her legal name and correct pronouns.
"The school said, 'Sorry, too bad. If you continue to send her here, we're going to call her whatever she wants. It doesn't matter what you want, parents.' So they quickly withdrew her from school, withdrew her from the affirming environment that she was in, and a few weeks later, she changed her mind and realized her parents were right, that she was really a girl," Berg details.
While that is a good end to her story, he points out that it does not change the school's policy. That is why that family and another that currently has children in the district have sued.
"Our position is that this policy violates parents' rights and that school districts have to obtain parental consent before they can begin treating children as the opposite sex while they are at school," the attorney relays.
WILL filed the lawsuit in November 2021 and won the school district's motion to dismiss.
In support of WILL's motion, the firm submitted expert testimony from two well-renown experts in this field -- one of whom is transgender, both of whom have worked with kids dealing with gender dysphoria and gender identity issues. Both testified that policies like this violate standards of care, that no professional organization anywhere recommends that school staff facilitate a transition at school over the objection of parents and without involving experts, because, as their clients' daughter's experience illustrates, transitioning is not always the right answer.
Berg advises parents across the nation to pay attention to this issue, as many school districts have adopted similar policies. Like the Kettle Moraine School District, some have not even formalized it into a written policy; it is just their internal decision-making framework when this issue comes up.
"Parents need to be vigilant and figure out what their school district's policy is," he reiterates. "If they don't have a policy, ask staff what it would be. It maters because this is an issue that can arise for any kid at any time."
Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom are also representing the two families in their case against the Kettle Moraine School District policy.