Parents and teachers have joined forces to sue the Harrisonburg, Virginia, City Public School Board. They say the council is usurping parents’ rights to direct their children’s education and forcing school staff to violate their religious beliefs by asserting the council’s view on gender identity.
Alliance Defending Freedom lawyers filed a lawsuit, DF vs. Harrisonburg City Public School Boardlast week in Rockingham County Circuit Court.
ADF reports that after a child makes a request, school district policy requires staff to immediately begin using opposite-sex pronouns and prohibits staff from sharing information with parents about their child’s request. instead of asking staff to mislead and deceive parents.
The non-profit legal association, which focuses its attention on religious freedom, originally sent a letter in January informing the council of its policy of withholding information from parents when students express confusion about their biological sex at school. school, which is unconstitutional.
The 56-page legal document names Nick Swayne as school board president; Deb Fitzgerald, Vice President; and board members Obie Hill, Andrew Kohen, Kristen Loflin, Kaylene Seigle and Superintendent of Schools Michael G. Richards.
The policy, according to the ADF, has led the school district to implement gender transition action plans, which specify that students’ families will only be involved where deemed “appropriate.”
“Parents — not public schools or government officials — have a fundamental right to direct the upbringing, care, and education of their children,” said ADF lead attorney Ryan Bangert. “Teachers and staff cannot deliberately withhold information about children’s mental health from their parents, especially since some of the decisions children make at school have potentially life-changing consequences. the clients we represent, the role of a teacher is to support, not supplant, the role of the parent.”
CBN News has reached out to the City of Harrisonburg Public Schools Board for comment. In an email, Superintendent Richards pointed to the council’s statement posted on the district’s website and the letters exchanged between him and the ADF in January and April of this year.
“Our school board has general non-discrimination policies in its policy manual and maintains a strong commitment to its Inclusiveness Statement, which is available on our website,” the statement said. “In specific student situations, the emphasis is always on fostering a team approach that includes and supports the unique needs of the student and family on a case-by-case basis.”
“HCPS also has systems in place to listen to and respond to employee concerns, the statement continued. and take an approach to addressing needs or concerns that we believe best serves the interests of our students, staff and families. »
ADF attorneys also represent parents and teachers in several other public school cases.
Kansas middle school teacher fights policy that violates her beliefs
In Kansas, a middle school teacher is suing her school district for forcing her to use a student’s “preferred name” to address the student in class while using the student’s legal name when speaking. speaks to parents – an action that violates the conscience of the teacher.
As CBN News reported in March, Fort Riley Middle School math teacher Pamela Ricard was reprimanded and suspended in April 2021 for calling a student a “miss.” She was informed that the student no longer felt like a girl and was now using different pronouns and a different first name.
Ricard said referring to students by anything other than their biological sex violates his religious beliefs.
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Neither the school nor the Geary County School District had formal guidelines on gender pronouns at the time, but Ricard was still accused of violating the school’s bullying, diversity and inclusion policies. district.
Shortly after Ricard’s suspension, the college principal issued new training materials to staff members, requiring them to use students’ preferred names and pronouns.
The teacher filed a lawsuit on March 7 and filed a complaint in US District Court.
Wisconsin parents fight policies that exclude parents
And in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, assisted by ADF attorneys, is representing two parent groups: A parent group is challenging a Madison Metropolitan School District policy that directs district employees to exclude parents over decisions about children’s health, and another parent group is suing the Kettle Moraine School District over its policy that allows underage students to change their names and gender pronouns at school without parental consent .
As CBN News reported earlier this month, in the lawsuit against the Kettle Moraine School District, a Wisconsin Circuit Court judge denied a motion by the school district to dismiss the case. Judge Michael P. Maxwell ruled the parents’ lawsuit had merit, saying it ‘demonstrates a potential violation of their rights as parents to direct their child’s upbringing and is sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss. “.
“The right of parents to direct the upbringing, education and mental health treatment of their children is one of the most fundamental constitutional rights that every parent holds dear, but we are seeing more and more school districts across the country not only ignore parents’ concerns, but for that reason we are pleased that the court denied the school district’s request to dismiss this case and instead recognized that our clients’ argument demonstrates a potential violation of their rights as parents to direct their child’s education,” Alliance Defending Freedom lead attorney Roger Brooks said in a statement.
“Kettle Moraine should take this opportunity to change its policy, which violates the constitutionally protected rights of parents and is not in the best interests of children. As the court wrote, ‘Wisconsin courts recognize that parents have the right to make ‘decisions about the education and upbringing of their children,’ ‘without government interference,’ the statement concluded.
According to the ADF, prior to filing the lawsuit, attorneys for WILL and ADF wrote a letter to the school district expressing their clients’ concerns and asking it to change its policy to require parental consent before school officials school do not use a child’s preferred name or pronoun at school. school and retrain its staff accordingly. The school district did not respond to the letter, leaving parents no choice but to press charges.
CBN News has contacted the Kettle Moraine School District for comment, but has not heard back.