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Supreme Court of the United States

A School District Is Evading Federal Law to Hide Information from Parents

By Maureen Collins posted on:
July 17, 2020

Are your children’s teachers hiding something from you?

There really shouldn’t be any reason why teachers aren’t forthcoming with parents when it comes to their children’s education. But in Madison, Wisconsin, a school district has adopted a policy that encourages teachers to deceive parents about their child’s claimed “gender identity.”

The policy even tells teachers and school administrators to try to end-run federal law to keep information from parents.

Here’s what is going on.

In 2018, the Madison Metropolitan School District adopted a policy promoting transgender ideology among children as young as five years old. It defines gender as “a person’s internal sense of self as male, female, both, or neither” and includes lesson plans and books that affirm transgender ideology, such as the controversial I Am Jazz.

While this alone is disturbing, we haven’t even gotten to the deception yet.

According to the policy, if—after all that ideology-driven transgender instruction—a child claims a different gender identity and asked to be called by a different name at school than at home, all school employees are required to go along with that. But at the same time, school employees must revert to using the child’s birth name when the child’s parents are around, to keep them in the dark.

Hiding important information about children from their parents is bad enough. What’s worse is that the Madison school district’s policy encourages teachers to evade federal laws in order do so.

Under the Madison policy, teachers are required to fill out a two-page “Gender Support Plan” form for any child who asks to be treated in school as transgender. The form includes questions about “family support, and about which restroom the student will use, and asks, “Will the family be included?”

Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), parents have very broad rights to see school records about their children. But will parents who ask to see their child’s records see that detailed, required “Gender Support Plan”? No.

How does the School District justify that? 

Under FERPA, an individual teacher’s “personal” notes about a student are exempt from the parents’ right of access.

So, what did the Madison school district do? A note on the “Gender Support Plan” form instructs teachers to keep the Gender Support Plan in the teacher’s personal “confidential file,” ”not in student records,” so that the school can claim that it is is exempt from this federal law, and keep it secret from parents.

This is an unusual directive. And we don’t have to guess why the school district made it. It states outright in its policy that its goal is to hide certain information from parents. Under its “confidentiality” section, the policy says “School staff shall not disclose any information that may reveal a student’s gender identity to others, including parents or guardians and other school staff unless legally required to do so […] ”

That means in the Madison school district, a child could identify as the opposite sex at school, have permission to use opposite-sex facilities, and even be called by a different name by school staff. But parents would have no idea.

This isn’t just about keeping student information confidential. This is about subjecting children to what experts recognize is a potentially life-altering psychological treatment (experiment, really) without their parents’ knowledge. And that’s a violation of parental rights.

That’s why Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys are partnering with the Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty to help 14 parents challenge the school district’s policy in court.

Parents should expect honesty from those charged with teaching their children, especially when it comes to topics as sensitive as gender identity.

Maureen Collins

Maureen Collins

Web Editor & SEO Manager

Maureen Collins serves as the Web Editor and SEO Manager at Alliance Defending Freedom.

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