Iowa school district sued for transgender policy that keeps parents in the dark

by mcardinal

Lauren Moye, FISM News


Seven parents sued the Linn-Mar Community School District on Aug. 2 for transgender policies they assert violate the first and fourteenth amendments as well as usurping their parental role in raising their children.

The complaint against the Iowa school district, filed in conjunction with Parents Defending Education (PDE), reads: “Nearly a century of Supreme Court precedent makes two things clear: parents 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.”

However, on April 25, the Linn-Mar School District board adopted a new policy for transgender and non-gender conforming students “over fierce opposition from parents” that challenges both precedents.

Under the policy, students can create their own “gender support plan” that can include choosing a new name and pronouns for school use, including legal documents and ID cards, and use all facilities, classes, sports, and clubs associated with the asserted gender.

The policy can be created without parental notification. In fact, the school will not answer a parent who requests to know if their child has created a gender support plan.

“Parents are completely and purposely left in the dark,” PDE stated in the brief.

It also usurps a parent’s role by assuming the school district can make better decisions regarding the physical and mental health of a child. However, this also implies that teachers and school administration know the child best.

One of the Linn-Mar Community plaintiff parents, called “Parent A” in the brief, has a child on the autism spectrum who “has difficulty distinguishing between male characteristics and female characteristics and often makes statements that are easily misinterpreted.”

Additionally, the child has a mental age well below her physical age. This leads to a concern that the child would be placed on a gender support plan without parental knowledge, input, or properly understanding of the child.

Parent A elected to withdraw their child from the district until the policy is rescinded.

Another plaintiff parent has the same concerns regarding a special needs daughter, particularly as one of her classrooms also serves as the high school’s LGTB club with instructional posters on display. 

For this parent, there are no other options but to keep the child enrolled in the Linn-Mar district. Enrollment in a private school is not possible for this student, and her application to another district was denied, the parent asserted. 

Four other parents, meanwhile, fear that their older children’s conscience and freedom of free speech have been compromised. The district’s anti-bullying policy, which specifically mentions “misgendering,” lists suspension and expulsion as possible punishments. One high school student actively avoids using pronouns out of fear of academic discipline, according to parental testimony.

Additionally, the parents are concerned that students who express a belief in only two immutable genders might become grounds for punishment under the separate anti-discrimination policy.

“Public school students have First Amendment rights, and those rights do not disappear ‘at the schoolhouse gate,'” the brief asserts in paragraph 26, referencing a 1969 ruling against a Des Moines school district.

The district received national attention when part of the policy, which allows children to bunk with their declared gender on overnight trips, went viral back in June.