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Parents sue Wisconsin school district over gender transition policy

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Parents are suing a suburban Milwaukee school district because of a policy that lets students change their names and pronouns at school without needing parental consent.

The Associated Press reported the lawsuit was filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) and the Alliance Defending Freedom.

In a press release, WILL stated that the policy violates parents’ constitutional right to raise their children.

“Schools cannot override parents when it comes to decisions about their children,” said WILL Deputy Counsel Luke Berg. “Gender identity transitions are no exception. Schools must defer to parents about what is best for their child.”

Kate Anderson, director of the ADF Center for Parental Rights, put the lawsuit as a part of conflicts with school boards across the country, often over LGBTQ issues.

“Parents’ rights to direct the upbringing, education, and mental health treatment of their children is one of the most basic constitutional rights every parent holds dear. Yet we are seeing more and more school districts across the country not only ignoring parents’ concerns, but actively working against them,” she said.

One of the families involved said they removed their child from Kettle Moraine School District because of the policy. According to WILL, the family’s child said they wanted to us a male name and he/him pronouns. The family then decided she shouldn’t transition. When the school district told the parents they would use the pronouns the child wanted. The parents took their child out of the school district. As of this week, the child is using her female name and she/her pronouns in a different district.

WILL has an affidavit from Dr. Stephen Levin that states that transitioning “too early” will cause long-term harm. The affidavit also states that there are no studies showing that affirming trans kids help prevent suicide.

A study from The Trevor Project showed that acceptance of one’s gender identity from adults and peers was associated with significantly lower odds of attempting suicide among transgender and nonbinary youth. Transgender and nonbinary youth who had gender identity acceptance from at least one adult had 33% lower odds of reporting a past-year suicide attempt.

Another study from the Journal of Adolescent Health reported that there were good mental health outcomes in the short term and long term issues were because of harassment because of their gender identity.

The lawsuit was filed on Wednesday, Nov. 17 in Milwaukee. It comes among a flurry of anti-LGBTQ incidents at schools.

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