Marion, IA. — Parents Defending Education (PDE), a nationwide nonprofit membership association that empowers concerned citizens to become more engaged in America’s education system, filed a lawsuit today against Linn-Mar Community School District (LMCSD). Parents Defending Education v. Linn-Mar Community School District et. al was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, alleging that the district violates students’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights through its “Transgender and Students Nonconforming to Gender Role Stereotypes” policy.
On April 25, 2022, the Linn-Mar School Board voted through policy 504.13 against the protestations of dozens of community members, while telling parents that such a change merely codified district practices that had been ongoing for the past five years. LMCSD’s “parental exclusion policy” asserts that the district will not disclose a student’s “transgender status” to parents unless that student specifically authorizes it, and that “any student in seventh grade or older will have priority of their support plan over their parent/guardian” – which means that in practice, these gender-identity decisions will be made solely by the student and school administrators.
Furthermore, the policy specifically emphasizes that gender support plans are to be kept in a separate “temporary” file, so that materials and records related to the gender support plan will NEVER be accessible to parents.
In addition, the policy asserts that “intentional and/or persistent refusal by staff or students to respect a student’s gender identity” – i.e. not using a student’s self-proclaimed pronouns or new name – can be punishable up to and including suspension and expulsion as violations of the district’s anti-bullying & anti-harassment policy, equal educational opportunity policy, and Title IX policy.
PDE files this case on behalf of several members in the district whose children are directly impacted by policy 504.13 on both the parental exclusion provision as well as the compelled speech provision. Of particular concern is that special needs children – including those on the autism spectrum – are particularly vulnerable under this policy.
“Linn-Mar’s gender policy demonstrates a deep contempt for the constitutional rights of its students and families,” said Parents Defending Education President Nicole Neily. “It has been clearly established by the federal court system over the past 100 years that parents have a right to direct the upbringing of their children, and we are proud to fight on behalf of our members to put a stop to these unconstitutional policies.”
Parents Defending Education has asked the court to declare that Linn-Mar’s parental exclusion policy is a violation of the equal protection clause – and that the district’s compelled speech policy is a violation of both the First and Fourteenth Amendment. PDE has asked the courts to enjoin the parental exclusion policy, as well as the district’s compelled speech policy.