We’ve seen a troubling amount of hostility toward those who hold biblical beliefs about marriage and the sanctity of human life. You need look no further for an example than Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips, who has been harassed for his beliefs for the past seven years. Or look at Skyline Church in California, which was forced to pay for abortion in its healthcare plan.
But aggressive pro-abortion and LGBT activists aren’t just targeting churches and creative professionals. They’re also targeting our children—and they’re lying about it.
Last summer, leaked video footage revealed ACLU attorney Ruth Dawson instructing California public school teachers how to help their students hide abortions from their parents. One method included falsifying attendance records and allowing students to ditch school.
“Some districts will do things like they’ll say ‘the student was with an administrator at this time,’ and that administrator, you know, they won’t answer further questions,” Dawson said to the teachers. “It’s a little tricky…” she added.
Dawson also instructed the attendees about teaching LGBT ideology.
“Instruction must affirmatively recognize that people have different sexual orientations . . . it is not only bias-free but it is affirmatively inclusive of those folks and relationships,” Dawson said. She also added that “there are a bunch of genders.”
Curriculum affirming LGBT ideology is mandatory in all California public schools. There is no parental opt-out option. The same is true in a handful other states. Numerous individual school districts across the country require this as well.
Standing up for Parental Rights
One such school district is the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) in Wisconsin.
According to the school district’s policies on LGBT curriculum, a child’s gender identity can be “male, female, a blend of both or neither.” Earlier this year, the district provided teachers of all grades with a coloring book that told children: “Everyone has the right to choose their own gender by listening to their own heart and mind. Everyone gets to choose if they are a girl or a boy or both or neither or something else.”
But that’s not all. MMSD goes even further beyond the pale by requiring teachers to actively deceive parents about the expressed gender identity of their child!
That’s why, on behalf of several concerned parents, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) and ADF have filed a lawsuit in state court challenging MMSD’s policy that requires district employees to keep parents in the dark about the expressed gender identity of their children.
Let’s take a look at how this policy might work in practice: If a first grader named Austin told his teacher he wanted to change his name to Ashley, but that he didn’t want his parents to know, MMSD policy would require the teacher to fully affirm him in his new expressed gender identity at school. But when the child’s parents are around, MMSD policy would instruct the teacher to cease calling him “Ashley” and revert to calling him “Austin” in order to keep his parents in the dark.
This subjects poor Austin to a mental health nightmare. Repeatedly affirming the expressed gender of a child suffering from gender dysphoria is a potentially life-altering decision. The overwhelming majority of young children who experience gender dysphoria grow out of it; but when the adults around them encourage children to “transition” and live out a transgender identity, those children are more likely to persist in their gender dysphoria, and to subsequently encounter the severe mental and health challenges of living as a transgender adult.
As Dr. Stephen Levine noted in his expert affidavit submitted in this case, “The child is not competent to weigh how these risks or issues will impact his or her lifetime happiness,” and “[E]ducators do not have the professional training and experience necessary to guide children and parents through [these] difficult and potentially life-altering decisions…”
Dr. Levine later lays out various reasons why parental involvement is so important in these scenarios.
First, any meaningful psychological treatment for such a child will require regular visits with a qualified mental health professional—something only parents can provide. Additionally, because parents have (almost always) known their children since birth, their unique insight is critical in helping mental health professionals diagnose potential causes of the gender dysphoria. Further, Levine notes, “[f]or a child to live radically different identities at home and at school, and to conceal what he or she perceives to be his or her true identity from parents, is psychologically unhealthy in itself, and could readily lead to additional psychological problems.”
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has long recognized the rights of parents “to rear their children according to their own system of beliefs,” and MMSD has clearly violated that right.
No parent, religious or nonreligious, should want teachers secretly sending their children down a path toward hormone blockers, sterilization, and increased risks for psychological harm.
Ryan Everson serves as the Communication Integrity Specialist at Alliance Defending Freedom