Parents sue Iowa school district over transgender policy that keeps them in the dark

An Iowa school district is violating the constitutional rights of students and their parents through a new transgender policy, according to a recent lawsuit.

Parents Defending Education (PDE) filed the federal lawsuit against Linn-Mar Community School District on behalf of district parents over the school’s “Transgender and Students Nonconforming to Gender Role Stereotypes” rules. 

Of particular concern is the “parental exclusion policy” which says that the district will not disclose a student’s “transgender status” to parents unless that student specifically authorizes it, and that “any student in seventh grade or older will have priority of their support plan over their parent/guardian.”  

“[T]he policy specifically emphasizes that gender support plans are to be kept in a separate ‘temporary’ file, so that materials and records related to the gender support plan will never be accessible to parents,” said Nicole Neily, President of PDE. 

“In addition, the policy asserts that ‘intentional and/or persistent refusal by staff or students to respect a student’s gender identity – i.e. not using a student’s self-proclaimed pronouns or new name – can be punishable up to and including suspension and expulsion,” Neily added. 

The school board approved the policy on April 25 despite strong opposition from parents, claiming “the rules merely codified district practices that had been ongoing for five years,” according to a local report. 

“Nearly a century of Supreme Court precedent makes two things clear,” the lawsuit reads, “[P]arents have a constitutional liberty interest in the care, custody, and control of their children, and students do not abandon their First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse gate.  

“The Linn-Mar Community School District is flouting both of these constitutional guarantees through its recent adoption of Policy 504.13-R”