Parents must “earn” the right to know their “kids’ identities” according to public school staff training

A Wisconsin school district offered a staff training session that included a slide saying, “Remember, parents are not entitled to know their kids’ identities. That knowledge must be earned.”

Many parents, including some running for school board in the Eau Claire Area School District, disagree. A joint statement from three of those candidates calls the training a “blatant disregard for parental rights and responsibilities.” 

“They’re asking teachers not to communicate with parents about issues that pertain to their child,” said Nicole Everson, one of the candidates. “I’m responsible for my child until they move out or they’re 18 years old. And so I have the sole decision-making of what goes on with my child.”

Tim Nordin, the district’s board president who is currently up for re-election, defended the training: “This isn’t about that slide alone. This was a professional development session talking about students who are LGBTQ and the extremely high rates they have of mental health difficulties, suicide attempts and depression.”

Critics say the training could have the opposite effect while also disregarding the rights of parents. “The actions of the Eau Claire Area School District are not only dangerous to the mental, emotional and physical health of its students, but they also violate the constitutional rights of parents to make choices about their family life and upbringing of their children,” said Ian Prior, senior adviser at America First Legal.

Also concerning to parents is that the district has reportedly pushed a “heterosexual privilege” checklist that reveals supposed “heterosexual bias” and “sexuality-based social privilege” among students and staff in the district.

Gender policies that keep parents in the dark are not new in Wisconsin. This year the state’s Supreme Court will hear a case originally brought in 2020 against Madison Metropolitan School District. The plaintiffs oppose a district policy that allows children of any age to transition their gender identity at school without parental consent.