School district policy to deceive parents about children’s claimed gender identity prompts legal challenge

WILL, ADF attorneys represent 14 parents from eight Madison families
Wednesday, February 19, 2020

MADISON, Wis. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys, together with lead counsel from the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, asked a state court Wednesday to immediately halt a Madison Metropolitan School District policy that instructs school teachers and staff to assist and encourage children of any age in the adoption of transgender identities without parental consent or even notice. The policy even instructs district employees to deceive parents about the gender identity their son or daughter has adopted at school.

WILL and ADF attorneys represent 14 individual parents from eight families at the school district in challenging the policy, which violates constitutionally protected parental rights. According to an expert affidavit filed by the parents and submitted by Dr. Stephen B. Levine, a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, social transition of children is an experimental therapy that exposes vulnerable children to dangerous, lifelong physical, social, and mental health risks.

“This is a life-altering decision that educators have no business making,” said ADF Senior Counsel Roger Brooks. “As Dr. Levine explains based on decades of experience and extensive scientific literature, putting children on a pathway to puberty-blockers and cross-sex hormones can have devastating effects across a lifetime. That should serve as a wake-up call to parents and all Americans: When schools cast aside biological reality in favor of gender identity ideology, it’s children who are hurt the most.”

Levine, who chaired a committee that crafted a pioneering set of standards of care for individuals suffering from gender dysphoria, and who has been a senior editor for three editions of the Handbook of Clinical Sexuality for Mental Health Professionals, founded a gender identity clinic in 1974, which he continues to lead as co-director. Drawing on over four decades of firsthand experience, Levine also emphasizes the harm caused by a policy that encourages children and school officials to conceal information from or actively deceive parents.

“For a child to live radically different identities at home and at school, and to conceal what he or she perceives to be his or her true identity from parents, is psychologically unhealthy in itself, and could readily lead to additional psychological problems,” Levine wrote in his affidavit. “Extended secrecy and a ‘double life’ concealed from the parents is rarely the path to psychological health. For this reason at least, schools should not support deceit of parents…. Most children are both legally and developmentally incapable of giving informed consent to such a life-altering intervention. And parents, of course, cannot give informed consent if the fact of their child’s wish to assume a transgender identity is concealed from them.”

In addition to pressing for school officials to hold to principles of basic honesty and transparency when dealing with parents—which is also needed to meet standards of informed consent—Levine’s 50-page affidavit also discusses the massive outcome differences between the available approaches for treating children who show signs of discomfort with their biological sex.

For example, multiple studies have reported that among children who experience gender dysphoria or transgender identification but do not socially transition, 80% to 98% “desisted,” or became comfortable with their biological sex, by young adulthood. By contrast, recent data suggests that among boys “who engaged in a partial or complete social transition before puberty,” fewer than 20% had desisted when surveyed at age 15 or older.

WILL and ADF attorneys filed the motion for a temporary injunction in Doe v. Madison Metropolitan School District with the Circuit Court of Dane County.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
 
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