Parents' rights group sues Iowa school district over gender transition policies

Parents Defending Education allege the school's policies violate parent's Fourteenth Amendment rights

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Parents' rights organization Parents Defending Education is suing an Iowa school district for policies allowing students to create "Gender Support Plans" without parental knowledge or consent.  

According to the lawsuit, filed in the District Court for the Northern District of Iowa Tuesday, these policies authorize "children to make fundamentally important decisions about their gender identity without any parental involvement and to then hide these decisions from parents." 

Policies of the Linn-Mar Community School District in Iowa allow the school to assist students as young as 7th grade with a "Gender Support Plan," aiding with the student’s gender transition. Parents do not have to be informed of the existence of the plan, and in some cases, it may be hidden from them.

Through this plan, the school can direct all staff and students to address the student by a new name and pronoun and allow the student to participate in physical education classes, sports and other activities that correspond with the student’s preferred gender. 

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Elementary students wearing masks in the classroom

Elementary students wearing masks in the classroom (iStock)

The policy also states that "The district shall not disclose information that may reveal a student’s transgender status to others including but not limited to other students, parents, and school staff…," and directs school staff to check with students about which pronoun the staff should use when communicating with a student’s parents. 

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The policy also states that written records pertaining to a student’s gender identity or gender transition will be kept in a "temporary file," accessible only to those given access by the student. Under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), parents are entitled to receive their children’s permanent files. 

Should other students intentionally or persistently "respect a student’s gender identity," they can face consequences up to suspension or expulsion. 

Blue school hallway lockers and checkered tile in high school students in the background (down-sampled to increase sharpness)

Blue school hallway lockers and checkered tile in high school students in the background (down-sampled to increase sharpness) (iStock)

The lawsuit cites a "growing movement" across the nation to exclude parents from decisions involving their children’s gender identity. 

"A child’s gender identity implicates the most fundamental issues concerning the child, including the child’s religion, medical care, mental health, sense of self, and more. Yet despite ‘extensive precedent’ that parents must be involved in decisions concerning these types of issues … school districts across the country are increasingly excluding parents from decisionmaking when gender identity is involved," the lawsuit reads.

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These policies by the school district violate students' First Amendment right to free speech, and parents' Fourteenth Amendment rights, the lawsuit alleges. 

The ACLU argued that a transgender student at the Martinsville school in Indiana should be able to use a bathroom which corresponds with his gender identity.

The ACLU argued that a transgender student at the Martinsville school in Indiana should be able to use a bathroom which corresponds with his gender identity. (iStock)

"It is unconscionable that school bureaucrats are actively seeking to undermine the relationship between a parent and their child, implying that these officials are a "safer" option compared to his or her family and codifying a practice of deliberately excluding families from significant life decisions," Nicole Neily, founder and president of Parents Defending Education told Fox News Digital.  

"While Linn-Mar administrators may play a role in a child's life for a period of time, their presence ends when a student graduates - but meanwhile, mothers and fathers will always be there for their children, consoling them in their hour of need and picking up the pieces long past high school. Parents have clearly-established rights to be involved in decisions related to their children's welfare, and we intend to defend the rights of Linn-Mar parents to do so," she continued. 

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The Linn Mar school district did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.