On February 8, 2024 Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach published the following press release:
Attorney General Kris Kobach announced today that several Kansas school districts allow employees to hide from parents the fact that a student may be using a different name or pronouns at school. Early last year, Kobach sent letters to six Kansas school districts challenging their policies that require or allow school district staff to conceal from parents a student’s “transgender” or “gender non-conforming” status. In short, the policies allow schools to “socially transition” students without the parent’s knowledge or consent.
“A child changing his or her gender identity has major long-term medical and psychological ramifications,” Kobach said. “Parents should know, and have an opportunity to be involved in, such an important aspect of their well-being.”
The Attorney General notified the districts that their policies violate parental rights and asked whether the district collected parental input prior to adopting the transgender notification policies.
Upon receiving the letter, two school districts—Belle Plaine (USD 357) and Maize (USD 266)—responded that they had no intention of cutting parents out of the process and immediately rescinded or amended their policies.
“A lot of times these policies are pushed by outside activist organizations and adopted by school boards without being fully informed about what the policy would actually do,” said Deputy Attorney General Abhishek Kambli. “Belle Plaine and Maize should be praised for responding swiftly when they saw what was going on.”
The four remaining districts, however, dug in their heels and essentially asserted that school administrators know better than parents. Those remaining schools were Kansas City (USD 500), Olathe (USD 233), Shawnee Mission (USD 512), and Topeka (USD 501). Some schools denied that their policies cut parents out of the picture, but the Attorney General’s letters quote the offending language directly from those schools’ policies. Olathe requested a meeting to discuss the issue with the Attorney General’s Office, but despite repeated attempts by the Attorney General’s staff, no such meeting has been scheduled.
Kobach also sent a letter to the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) based on evidence that KASB may have been involved in promoting policies that push parents out of the way on this issue. KASB declined to either confirm or deny that it had been involved in drafting such policies.
Kobach’s letters to the KASB and four holdout districts can be found here.
Statement from PDE Leadership:
Caroline Moore, Vice President of Parents Defending Education:
What’s happening in Kansas right now could easily be adopted and tailored to fit any state, depending on political appetite and eagerness to reign in the rogue school districts. Parental exclusion policies purposely tarnish relationships between parents and children, to no avail. Kansas is a great example of recognizing an issue that impacts all and correcting course, so these policies don’t plague another generation of students and their families.