Focus on the Family has joined with former Vice President Mike Pence’s nonprofit organization, Advancing American Freedom (AAF), and over 20 other pro-family organizations to submit an amicus brief to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a case seeking to defend a group of Iowa parents against a school district gender identity policy that undermines parental rights.

There is an ever-growing phenomenon in public schools, encouraged by groups such as the National Education Association and through social media contagion like Tik Tok to encourage young children to change their “gender identity,” keep any knowledge of what’s happening away from parents, and force children and teachers to use gender pronouns that contradict a student’s actual biological sex. The effort is insidious and harms not only the children it seeks to indoctrinate, but damages family relationships as well.

The latest example of an out-of-control school district is the Linn-Mar Community School District in Marion, Iowa. Several parents, identified in their lawsuit as “Parents Defending Education,” are suing the school district over its gender identity policy that usurps parents’ constitutional right to control the upbringing of their children, all in the name of furthering a radical policy that takes advantage of (and actually fosters) the sexual identity confusion of young children and teens.

In August, the parents asked U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams to issue a preliminary injunction prohibiting the school district from enforcing its gender identity policy and declare the policy unconstitutional. Disappointingly, the judge ruled that the parents were not entitled to an injunction because they did not allege any concrete injury to their parental rights, as none of their children had been affected by the policy yet.

But why should the parents have to wait until their children are physically or mentally harmed by the scheme before anyone can stop the school district’s insane policy? There is plenty of evidence of harm in other locations where this has taken root. And especially where the policy intentionally keeps parents in the dark? How is such outrageous conduct legally unassailable?

The judge also ruled the parents were unlikely to ultimately succeed with their First and Fourteenth Amendment claims against the school district.

The parents have appealed to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where Focus and AAF have recently submitted their amicus brief.

“Perhaps there is no more astonishing example of the ‘lost sight of the basic purposes of schooling’ than the case before this Court concerning the secret transitioning of children from one gender to another without the knowledge of parents,” the amicus brief begins.

The brief outlines the radical terms of the district’s policy:

“Under the Transgender Policy, a student can request a meeting with the counselor to receive support and begin implementation of the Gender Support Plan. The student (who is under the age of consent and cannot enter into contracts) then has to agree to who will be a part of the meeting, and if they do not want the parents to be there then the parents will not be notified.

“When it comes to confidentiality of the child’s transgender status at school, school administrators must ask the student before contacting parents, so that staff knows the pronouns and name to use in case the parents have not learned of the student’s transgender identity from someone other than school district staff.

“Even though parents of children at Linn-Mar Community School District may not be notified the gender assigned by school administrators to their own child, parents will be notified if their child is provided aspirin or ibuprofen.”

The brief also argues the district’s policy infringes the constitutional guarantees of free speech and religious freedom:

“In addition to abridging time-honored parental rights, the Linn-Mar Transgender Policy requires students not undergoing a school-led gender transition to use other students’ preferred pronouns when speaking and prohibits a wide range of protected speech. The Linn-Mar School Board policy states that ‘An intentional and/or persistent refusal by staff or students to respect a student’s gender identity is a violation of school board policies…’”

Since the policy requires students to “speak” on the subject of gender identity only the way the school district mandates, it amounts to government-compelled speech, a violation of the free speech provisions of the First Amendment. The district court failed to recognize that basic First Amendment principle.

But the brief also notes that forcing someone who believes in the biblical truth that “male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27) to deny that truth and speak otherwise, violates their religious free exercise rights.

“Here, Linn-Mar Community School District has clearly burdened students’ religious exercise by putting before them the difficult choice between avoiding suspension or expulsion at the hands of school administrators on one side and demonstrating tacit approval of gender ideology inconsistent with their religious beliefs on the other,” the brief argues.

The amicus brief closes by requesting the 8th Circuit reverse the district court and issue the preliminary injunction the district judge denied. There is no word yet on when the 8th Circuit might schedule oral arguments.

The case is Parents Defending Education v. Linn Mar Community School District.


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