Wisconsin court protects parental rights in pronoun case

WAUKESHA, WI — A Wisconsin circuit court judge ruled on Monday, Oct. 2, that a school allowing minor students to use pronouns inconsistent with their biological sex without parental consent violates the constitutional rights of parents to raise their own children. 

At least 1,045 U.S. school districts across the nation have adopted policies to support a child’s preferred pronouns over parental objections, and some school districts have enacted secrecy policies to hide any  child’s gender confusion from parents. While there are other lawsuits challenging some of those policies, the attorneys in the Wisconsin case stated this is the first win “on the merits” for parents over a school’s “gender-transition” policy.

The Wisconsin case involved Kettle Moraine School District near Milwaukee which supported a female minor student’s desire to use a male name and pronouns despite the objection of the child’s parents. According to the Court’s ruling, the parents then withdrew their child from the school.  Attorneys for the family stated the parents then sought out medical help for their daughter who later realized she was “grateful” she did not assume a male identity. The attorneys also stated the “affirmation” the girl received at school for wanting to be a boy “really messed her up.”

Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael P. Maxwell issued an order prohibiting the school from referring to students with names or pronouns that are “at odds” with a student’s biological sex without express parental permission for it violated both the Wisconsin State and U.S. Constitutions.

Judge Maxwell wrote, “…parents have fundamental liberty interest in the decisions regarding ‘care, custody, and control of their children.’…[and] simply because the decision of a parent is not agreeable to a child or because it involves risks does not automatically transfer the power to make that decision from the parents to some agency or officer of the state.”

While Judge Maxwell emphasized that “transgenderism” is a controversial issue, he cited “uncontested expert affidavits” from medical professionals that the issue “is undisputedly a medical and healthcare issue.”

Judge Maxwell stated, “…doctors agree that living a ‘double life’ where a child’s gender roles are different at home and school, is ‘inherently psychologically unhealthy.’”

He noted the school district apparently ignored this argument and offered “no evidence to the contrary.”

The opinion points out that the district asserted that they have the right to control how it educates children. However, Judge Maxwell determined the case was not about parents controlling education but about parents controlling the medical decisions of their children and that school districts cannot “supplant a parent’s right to control” those decisions.

Judge Maxwell concluded, “The School District could not administer medicine to a student without parental consent. The School District could not require or allow a student to participate in a sport without parental consent. Likewise, the School District cannot change the pronoun of a student without parental consent without impinging on a fundamental liberty interest of the parents.”

School district officials have not yet indicated whether they will appeal the decision.

This ruling follows a recent court victory in California where two Christian teachers petitioned for and won an injunction against the Escondido Unified School District in San Diego County and are no longer forced by school policy to lie to parents and hide students’ gender confusion.

 As science continues to uncover gender dysphoria, therapeutic counseling has helped many people get beyond it. Counseling for gender dysphoria, which the “gender business” and media falsely refer to as “conversion therapy,” is actually talk therapy and is a lot like a GPS map system for mental health. The clients tell the counselor the direction in which they want to go, and the counselor helps them reach that destination. Counseling operates from the viewpoint that people do not have to be chained to gender dysphoria or unwanted desires, behaviors, or confusion.

Liberty Counsel has represented several licensed counselors in preserving their free speech rights to use private, therapeutic counseling in helping people overcome gender confusion. Those counselors have treated clients who have testified under oath that the counseling helped them resolve their mental health. Through Liberty Counsel’s efforts, many laws banning counseling have been struck down or repealed preserving the rights of clients and counselors to address unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, or gender confusion.

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “Parents alone, not schools, have the right to direct the upbringing of their children. Any school policy that undermines or ignores parents and harms children should be challenged and struck down.”