A federal judge in Wyoming has barred a school district from hiding the students’ gender identities from their parents after one couple sued.
Sean and Ashley Willey brought a lawsuit against the Sweetwater County School District in April after discovering that district staffers and teachers had affirmed their daughter’s decision to identify as a boy without the parents’ knowledge or consent, Cowboy State Daily reported. In doing so, the school district was honoring a 2022 policy, which not only required school employees to call students by their preferred names and pronouns, but also sought to protect students’ privacy by not informing their parents of changes in gender identity, the outlet stated.
A federal judge on Friday blocked Sweetwater County School District No. 1 from keeping transgender names and pronouns of students secret from parents, except in cases of abuse.https://t.co/5RKwlV4VT9
— Cowboy State Daily (@daily_cowboy) July 1, 2023
On June 30, U.S. District Court for Wyoming Chief Judge Scott Skavdahl issued a preliminary injunction against the district, ruling that the U.S. Supreme Court “has long recognized parents have a 14th Amendment right to the care, custody and control of their children,” according to Cowboy State Daily. (RELATED: New Jersey AG Sues School District Over Policies Prohibiting Teachers From Secretly Transitioning Students)
“It is difficult to envision why a school would even claim – much less how a school could establish – a generalized interest in withholding or concealing from the parents of minor children information fundamental to their identity, personhood, and mental and emotion wellbeing such as their preferred name and pronouns,” Skavdahl wrote, per the outlet.
Skavdahl’s ruling made an exception for cases in which there is a “reasonable basis” to believe that disclosure of a child’s gender identity could lead to parental abuse, but noted that “there is no suggestion that such a situation existed in this case.”
Though Skavdahl’s ruling has stopped the district’s ability to conceal students’ gender identities from their parents, Skavdahl declined to grant the Willeys’ other request and block schools from using a student’s preferred name or pronouns. By refusing to recognize students by their preferred name, Skavdahl reasoned, the district could potentially lose federal Title IX money, since President Joe Biden’s Department of Education currently requires schools to recognize the gender identities of their students.