Judge Dismisses Suit Over Policy That Allows Schools to Hide Students’ Gender Identity From Parents

Photo by Eliott Reyna on Unsplash

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit from parents who were challenging a school district’s policy that allowed administrators to hide a students’ professed gender identity from their parents.

Judge Paul Grimm of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland wrote in a decision as reported by The Washington Post that the guidelines “carefully balance the interests of both the parents and the students” by encouraging parental involvement “when the student consents” but allows for discretion “when the student expresses concern that the parents would not be supportive, or that disclosing their gender identity to their parents may put them in harm’s way.”

He also wrote in his decision that the policy was consistent with the district’s “legitimate interest in providing a safe and supportive environment for all MCPS students, including those who are transgender and gender nonconforming.”

The guidelines for Montgomery County Public Schools, the largest school district in Maryland, were originally challenged by a group of anonymous parents who wanted the court to prevent their enactment.

“Prior to contacting a student’s parent/guardian, the principal or identified staff member should speak with the student to ascertain the level of support the student either receives or anticipates receiving from home,” the guidelines read, as reported by The Christian Post.

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The policy asserts “In some cases, transgender and nonconforming students may not openly express their gender identity at home because of safety concerns or lack of acceptance.”

“Matters of gender identity can be complex and may involve familial conflict.”

It even notes that “information about a student’s transgender status, legal name, or sex assigned at birth may constitute confidential medical information” and so “disclosing this information to other students, their parents/guardians, or third parties may violate privacy laws, such as the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).”

The policy appears to go as far as to deliberately hide a student’s professed gender identity at school from parents as the default.

The guidelines state that school staff should use a transgender student’s “legal name and pronoun that correspond to the student’s sex assigned at birth” when contacting parents “unless the student or parent/guardian has specified otherwise.”

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