Yesterday a federal judge allowed parents of first graders to proceed with their lawsuit against the Mt. Lebanon School District in which they assert their constitutional rights to control when and how the school presents information about transgender topics to their children. According to the opinion, https://cases.justia.com/federal/district-courts/pennsylvania/pawdce/2:2022cv00837/290159/38/0.pdf?ts=1666963355, “the parents allege that their children’s first-grade teacher, with the permission of the public school district, pursued her own agenda outside the curriculum, which included showing videos or reading books about transgender topics and telling the first-grade students in her class (ages six and seven years old) to keep their discussions with them about transgender topics secret from their parents.” The opinion noted that the alleged conduct “went far beyond instructing a student that someone who differs from that students must be treated with kindness, tolerance, and respect. As pled in the complaint, the teacher, among other things, instructed the children in her first-grade class that their parents might be wrong about their children’s gender and told one of her students that she (the teacher) would never lie (implying that the parents may lie about their child’s identity) and that the child could dress like a different gender and be like the teacher’s transgender child.” The parents said that when they complained, the school district adopted a “de facto policy” that “the teacher could continue this conduct in the future without notice to the parents or the opportunity to opt-out.”
The parents said they did not intend to impose their religious beliefs on others but “protect their own young children” from the teacher’s “attempts to promote or inculcate in the young children in her class the teacher’s ideas or beliefs about a child’s gender identity and to initiate and engage in discussions with the first-graders in her class about the children’s own gender identity without the permission of their parents.”
The school district sought dismissal by summary judgment based on an argument that the parents could not show that their constitutional rights had been violated, but the court found the parents had substantial 14th Amendment rights to due process and to direct the raising of their children. The Court did dismiss without prejudice a claim based on the children’s privacy rights. This ruling will allow the case to continue at the trial level.
One interesting aspect of this trial decision is that the Judge identified a split between the Third and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals on the subject. Without going into too much depth, it appears the Judge is hoping to develop the record to the point where it may be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. https://cases.justia.com/federal/district-courts/pennsylvania/pawdce/2:2022cv00837/290159/38/0.pdf?ts=1666963355