A group of parents and teachers is suing the Harrisonburg City Public Schools (HCPS) over policies that require teachers to use students’ preferred pronouns and to keep the students’ preference confidential from their family. The plaintiffs are represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, which has filed several lawsuits against Virginia school districts over transgender- and equity-related policies.

“Parents—not public schools or government officials—have the fundamental right to direct the upbringing, care, and education of their children,” ADF Senior Counsel Ryan Bangert said in a June 4 press release. “Teachers and staff cannot willfully hide kids’ mental health information from their parents, especially as some of the decisions children are making at school have potentially life-altering ramifications. As the clients we represent believe, a teacher’s role is to support, not supplant, the role of the parent.”

The school district added “gender identity” to a nondiscrimination policy in 2021 to comply with the Virginia Department of Education’s 2021 Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students. In January 2022, the ADF sent a letter to the district calling the school’s policy unconstitutional.

An HCPS training document obtained by the ADF states, “A student’s gender transition should be considered confidential. It is highly detrimental to out a student to another school staff, peers, or a student’s family. All communication should be in collaboration with the student.”

Now with the lawsuit, the plaintiffs are seeking a declaration that the school’s policy violates parents’ and teachers’ rights; injunctions against enforcement of that policy; damages for the plaintiffs, and attorneys’ fees.

They argue that “unquestioning affirmation” of students to address gender dysphoria is harmful and children need tailored attention, best provided by parents.

“Public schools should never hide information from or lie to parents about a child’s mental health. And schools should never compel teachers to perpetrate such a deception. Yet Harrisonburg City Public Schools (“HCPS”) has done just that,” the lawsuit states.

This article originally appeared in The Virginia Star. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of The Republican Standard. Republished with permission.


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