PDE Settles Lawsuit Against Linn-Mar Community School District

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Parents Defending Education’s lawsuit against Linn-Mar Community School District has ended in a settlement agreement that will end the use of a speech-silencing policy that punished students who “misgender” others.

After PDE prevailed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, Linn-Mar agreed to rescind—and promised never to reinstate—the portion of Policy 504.13-R that prohibits an “intentional and/or persistent refusal by staff or students to respect a student’s gender identity.”

PDE’s lawsuit and the resulting settlement means that Linn-Mar Community Schools may no longer use this policy to chill student speech and ignore the guaranteed protections of the First Amendment.

“Parents Defending Education is thrilled that Linn-Mar Community Schools has agreed to respect the First Amendment rights of its students going forward,” said Parents Defending Education president Nicole Neily. “This settlement sends a clear message that student speech may not be compelled by administrators when it comes to gender issues – and a reminder to districts that viewpoint discrimination in public schools is wrong, full stop.”

PDE also challenged the “parental exclusion policy” component of Policy 504.13-R, which stated that parents of students in seventh grade and older did not have the right to know their child’s gender identity at school. In the wake of PDE’s lawsuit, the state of Iowa passed a bill banning districts from knowingly giving “false or misleading information” to parents about their child’s gender identity, which the Eighth Circuit found mooted PDE’s appeal on that issue. However, PDE’s research has identified more than 1000 districts across the country that still maintain such policies.