Sixteen state attorneys general filed an amicus brief opposing parents’ rights and supporting policies where schools hide information about children’s sexual identity confusion from their parents.
The brief was filed in support of school officials in a Massachusetts case where parents had sued the officials and the school district for concealing their children’s struggles with accepting their sexual identity.
In the lawsuit, Foote v. Ludlow School Committee, the parents also alleged that school officials ignored clear warnings to the school by participating in conversations with their children about mental health issues. The parents had already engaged help for their children, who were only 11 years old at the time.
The parents lost their first round, when U.S. District Judge Mark Mastroianni dismissed the case last December, but they have appealed their case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
The parents said the school violated their constitutional rights by:
- Meeting secretly with their children to engage in counseling and advocacy related to mental health and discordant gender identity without parental notice and consent,
- Deceiving parents by using one set of names and pronouns when communicating with them and another at school,
- Directing children to speak untruthfully by instructing them to use alternate gender pronouns and names for their peers, and
- Nurturing distrust for parents through secret meetings in which parents’ decisions and ability to provide for their children are questioned.
But AGs from sixteen states think this is okay.
Their brief says that the parents “broadly frame their argument around the notion that they – and not schools – bear sole responsibility for making ‘decisions regarding a child’s well-being.’”
While parents give schools authority to act “in loco parentis” – in the place of the parent – while children are at school, this is like a temporary sort of guardianship, and parents are ultimately responsible for their own children’s nurture and upbringing – not the state.
In a convoluted argument, the attorneys general suggest that forcing schools to talk to parents about a child’s sexual identity struggles “would force school officials to interfere with sensitive familial relationships” and “represents more of an intrusion on the parent-child relationship than the restraint from such communications” (their emphasis).
The attorneys believe that educators know what’s best for children and that adherence to gender ideology somehow overrules parental rights.
The Manhattan Institute and Dr. Leor Sapir disagreed with the attorneys general, filing a brief in support of the parents. They argued “that public-school teachers and staff, as state employees, are legally required to respect parents’ directions regarding their children’s health, including those related to gender and social transitioning.”
They introduced research that showed most children who are confused about their sexual identity “come to terms with their natal sex (‘desist’) by adulthood.” Nor can clinicians distinguish which children will persist in believing they are the opposite sex and which will not.
The brief explains that “social transitioning” – using opposite-sex names and clothes – is not a “neutral act but an active intervention,” pushing children toward medical transitioning.
They argue that parents are in the best position to help their children – not school officials.
The AGs opposing parental rights are California, Colorado, Connecticut, The District of Columbia, Hawai’i, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
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Focus on the Family exists to help families, and that includes help navigating the issues of homosexuality and transgenderism. Focus offers a free, one-time counseling consultation with a licensed or pastoral counselor. To request a counseling consultation, call 1-855-771-HELP (4357) or fill out our Counseling Consultation Request Form.
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