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Maryland Parents Can’t Sue School Over Policy On Secret Gender Transitioning, Federal Appeals Court Rules

Maryland Parents Can’t Sue School Over Policy On Secret Gender Transitioning, Federal Appeals Court Rules

Dissent: Majority’s decision is “an unfortunate abdication of judicial duty … with respect to a very important constitutional issue that is directly harming and will likely continue to harm the parents in this case by usurping their constitutionally protected role.”

Earlier this week, a divided Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a group of Montgomery County, Maryland parents had no standing to challenge their schools’ gender transitioning policy.

The 2-1 decision marks the latest in what is now a series of losses in federal court for parents suing to protect their children from such policies that permit schools to encourage students’ gender transitioning behind their backs.

The Montgomery County school system has adopted gender identity guidelines that mirror those in other schools we wrote about here.

They include “gender support plans” that allow the school, on the student’s say-so, to support his or her delusion that they belong to the opposite sex:

The transition plans that are developed and implemented under the Guidelines include changing names and pronouns; requiring staff to comply with the use of such names and pronouns; changing school records; giving students the “right to dress in a manner consistent with their gender identity”; providing access to “gender-separated areas,” e.g., “bathrooms, locker rooms, and changing rooms”; providing access to classes and sports, in-school athletics, and clubs in accordance with the student’s new gender identity; promising special arrangements for “outdoor education/overnight field trips,” including sleeping arrangements; and providing safe places and other similar accommodations.

As with other schools’ policies, all this “social transitioning” takes place without the knowledge or consent of the students’ parents. For parents deemed to be “unsupportive”—again, based on the student’s word—Montgomery policy authorizes the school to continue to withhold information from them about their children’s new identity.

And for teachers who aren’t sure how to keep up this charade, the school offers more guidance:

“[s]chools should seek to minimize the use of permission slips and other school-specific forms that require disclosure of a student’s gender or use gendered terminology” and … “[u]nless the student or parent/guardian has specified otherwise, when contacting the parent/guardian of a transgender student, [Montgomery County] school staff members should use the student’s legal name and pronoun that correspond to the student’s sex assigned at birth.”

The Maryland parents’ case reached the Fourth Circuit when they appealed the district court ruling dismissing their lawsuit as a challenge to their schools’ curriculum over which they have no say.

On appeal, the school board challenged for the first time the parents’ standing to bring their lawsuit in federal court, arguing they failed to allege the type of injury required to show it.

The majority agreed. They said that the parents had only challenged the part of the “parental preclusion” policy that permits schools to withhold information about a student’s gender identity from parents:

The parents have not alleged that their children have gender support plans, are transgender or are even struggling with issues of gender identity. As a result, they have not alleged facts that the Montgomery County public schools have any information about their children that is currently being withheld or that there is a substantial risk information will be withheld in the future. Thus, under the Constitution, they have not alleged the type of injury required to show standing.

Maybe that’s because the school is keeping the parents in the dark about whether their kids have “gender support plans” in the first place.  How could they ever allege the injury necessary to show standing if they have to wait to know what they can’t ever know because the school is hiding it from them?

This perverse outcome and the results-oriented reasoning that led to it weren’t lost on the dissent. Judge Paul V. Niemeyer said the majority had read the parents’ complaint way too narrowly. It hadn’t merely challenged the parental notification rules, but the broader ongoing policy that violates their parental rights:

The Parents are challenging a mandatory policy that is forced upon their children and that governs them daily, having the potential to change or actually changing the dynamics between parents and children in the school system insofar as gender identity is being actively discussed, counseled, and addressed in the school setting. Moreover, in its most intrusive element, the Policy invites minor children to develop and implement a gender transition plan without the knowledge, consent, or participation of their parents.

The majority is “unnecessarily subjecting the Parents by default to a mandatory policy that pulls the discussion of gender issues from the family circle to the public schools without any avenue of redress by the Parents.”

The majority’s conclusion is, in the circumstances of this case, an unfortunate abdication of judicial duty with respect to a very important constitutional issue that is directly harming and will likely continue to harm the Parents in this case by usurping their constitutionally protected role.

The schools’ gender transition plans are not the mere “curricular decisions” the district court made them out to be, the dissent added. They “implicate the very personal decisionmaking about children’s health, nurture, welfare, and upbringing, which are fundamental rights of the parents.”

This week’s decision comes amidst a growing body of scientific research suggesting that the schools themselves are complicit in a new phenomenon: rapid onset gender dysphoria (ROGD). Northwestern University’s professor of psychology Michael Bailey describes it at The Free Press as an “explosion” of cases, especially among  “adolescent girls with no history of gender dysphoria, suddenly declaring they want to transition to the opposite sex.” He explains the theory behind ROGD:

Through social contagion from friends, social media, and even school, vulnerable girls are exposed to the idea that their normal adolescent angst is the result of an underlying transgender identity. These girls then suddenly declare that they are transgender. That is the rapid onset.

That theory might also explain what’s going on in places like Montgomery County, Maryland. Since officials instituted the new policy there, more than 300 students are allegedly gender transitioning with their schools’ assistance—all without notice to their parents. But by the court’s logic, parents won’t be able to obtain relief “until they learn that their own children are actually considering gender transition.” And by then, we have learned, it’s already too late.


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Well, if you can’t sue, you’ll have to take some other avenue to return personal, dire consequences on those who support these evil policies.

Did the court really think this through?

    Paul in reply to GWB. | August 17, 2023 at 4:55 pm

    I’m truly shocked none of these ‘doctors’ and progressive loons who are mutilating and grooming these kids have been taken out yet. It’s just a matter of time before they mess around with the wrong guy’s kid.

    angrywebmaster in reply to GWB. | August 17, 2023 at 6:56 pm

    That would be a solid NO.

The opinion runs to 45 pages. The dissent fills pp. 24-45.

I hope the plaintiffs appeal even if the chances of getting cert. are small.

Get your damn kids out of public schools and abandon this stupid notion your kids have a “right” to an education.

    henrybowman in reply to chrisboltssr. | August 17, 2023 at 7:52 pm

    The woke “makes me feel unsafe” trump card is about to be played by the “wrong team.” The result will be a well-deserved cratering enrollment for the public school system.

This seems like a true catch-22. With enough of these cases bubbling up, perhaps the Supreme Court will select one or more for a review. In any case policies such as this are not likely to endear the local voters to support school bond issues. And school board members, although likely tied to the teachers union, must recognize that there are more parents than teachers.

The ultimate power of the parents is to pull their kids out of school and into a different situation (parochial school, home school, or moving to a district with sane policies). In my area, this actually directly reduces the school district’s income from the state which is based on enrollment. If there is widespread parental action of this sort, then the school district will have a “Bud Light” moment.

“…Montgomery County, Maryland parents had no standing to challenge their schools’ gender transitioning policy.”

No standing. Of course; of course; of course. The refuge of tyrannical jurists everywhere: ‘No standing’ – in a matter directly involving their children in a government institution explicitly funded by those parents’ tax dollars.

OK. Then that means the parents can refuse to pay taxes to fund these child abuse centers sometimes referred to as ‘schools’. Correct? Correct??

Oh, no. The county will confiscate your property, or put you in prison.


    Milhouse in reply to LB1901. | August 17, 2023 at 11:37 pm

    It’s firmly established law, in every single jurisdiction in the country, and probably in every common-law jurisdiction on the planet, that taxpayers have no standing to challenge any government expenditure merely because they’re funding part of it. That was not at issue here, and if that’s your issue give up, you will never get a court anywhere to agree with you.

      Ironclaw in reply to Milhouse. | August 17, 2023 at 11:51 pm

      Millstone, I don’t think the funding was the main point there. It’s that it’s their children that are involved and they’re being excluded. The fact that they’re forced to pay for the whole thing is just the cherry on top

        Ironclaw in reply to Ironclaw. | August 17, 2023 at 11:52 pm

        Sorry, Milhouse

        Milhouse in reply to Ironclaw. | August 19, 2023 at 12:57 pm

        No. As I wrote, “That was not at issue here”. It wasn’t the main point, it wasn’t a side point, it wasn’t a cherry, and it wasn’t in the dribbles of icing that ran off onto the plate. It was not at issue at all LB1901’s comment is just completely off base, out the gate, and half-way to the opposite coast.

      The people who pay for it have no standing is ‘firmly established law’ is precisely why I say, “BURN IT ALL DOWN.”

        Milhouse in reply to LB1901. | August 19, 2023 at 12:58 pm

        So you are literally an insurrectionist and an enemy of the USA. Good to know. Anyone who adheres to you and gives you aid and comfort is a traitor.

thalesofmiletus | August 17, 2023 at 5:57 pm

I’m inclined to believe the majority when they say that transitioning children is part of the curriculum.

CRAZY. If parents aren’t stakeholders with standing to sue the public education bureaucracy, we’re living in something other than a nation that values liberty and representative government.

    henrybowman in reply to TargaGTS. | August 17, 2023 at 7:54 pm

    Maryland is and has long been a deep blue hellhole. Montgomery County is practically ultraviolet.

      WTPuck in reply to henrybowman. | August 18, 2023 at 9:52 am

      I’d think they might have a chance if they sued because none of their kids are literate or numerate. In Baltimore, anyway.

    Milhouse in reply to TargaGTS. | August 17, 2023 at 11:39 pm

    The majority said the parents have standing, but only if their children are involved in this. Which they have no way of knowing because the school won’t tell them.

      But there’s the problem. If their children are in the school they are involved in this. Regardless of whether teachers have targeted them specifically or not.

      And it’s obvious the folks claiming no standing are either precedent pedants or protecting the trans agenda and the associated administrators/teachers. It is a travesty of actual justice.

        Milhouse in reply to GWB. | August 19, 2023 at 1:00 pm

        Nope. If their children are in the school but not suffering from any delusions, then they’re not involved. If their children are suffering from delusions then the majority of the court agreed the parents do indeed have standing to sue — but they have to establish that first! This is the classic Catch 22.

    Ironclaw in reply to TargaGTS. | August 17, 2023 at 11:54 pm

    What gave you the idea that Maryland was a place with a value representative government?

AGAIN, it’s the Fourth Circuit writing opinions based on whatever legal outcome is most favored by the left. Pure politics with only legal window dressing. Unfortunately, the dissent is correct.

It seems to me that telling teachers to use given names and gender at birth in communications to parents is purposely defrauding parents of their role in an important change in their child’s life. Anyone know whether this argument has been made or has legal merit?

    Milhouse in reply to jb4. | August 17, 2023 at 11:42 pm

    Fraud can only apply to property. But essentially that was the parents’ argument, and the majority said that’s correct, but only if they’re lying to you about your child. The mere fact that they have a policy of lying to some parents doesn’t give you standing, because you don’t know whether you are one of those parents. And, of course, you don’t know because they won’t tell you!

      So Milhouse, what argument would you use? Which argument WOULD give the parents standing? Assuming that you are not in agreement with the school system changing a child’s fundamental identity without the parents knowing.

        Milhouse in reply to Tel. | August 19, 2023 at 1:07 pm

        With this majority? I don’t know that there is an argument that would convince it to give these parents standing. I think you’d have to find parents who found out the hard way that they’d been lied to, and their kid is now messed up, and have them sue. Even if they won it would be cold comfort to them, but I don’t see another way to convince this majority to hear the case.

        A better way would be to appeal the decision and ask for an en banc hearing. If that fails, they can always try to play the certiorari lottery with SCOTUS, but there’s not much chance of winning.

      Got it, thanks. So do parents who find out their child is no longer Mark but now is Mary then have a cause of action for all the lying and depriving the specific parents of a role in a vital change, that could supply a financial disincentive?

        GWB in reply to jb4. | August 18, 2023 at 9:17 am

        The problem with that is “Where do I go to get my child back?”
        It’s why the standing issue (as laid out by the majority here) is flat out evil.

        Milhouse in reply to jb4. | August 19, 2023 at 1:02 pm

        According to this majority decision, yes, they would have standing. They might lose their case, but at least they’d get to make one.

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

[Remarks on the first anniversary of the Alliance for Progress, 13 March 1962]
John F. Kennedy

    Ironclaw in reply to Ironclaw. | August 17, 2023 at 11:50 pm

    Not an exact analog but fitting in this case I think because they’re making peaceful resolution impossible by excluding the parents from the process which means there’s only one other type of resolution and that’s basically to crack skulls.

      It really does come back to pulling the children out of these public experimentation facilities and educating them at home. Unfortunately not all states allow for homeschooling. And my guess is that the Big Pharma hormone merchants will find a way to legally get to home-schooled children too.

      WTPuck in reply to Ironclaw. | August 18, 2023 at 9:55 am

      And this case is only one in a long train of abuses and usurpations, so I think the citation is apt.

One word: move. Leave these sewers and their rats.

School board elections are in many places not in November and generally have low participation rates. But parents who find out their schools are hiding information from them should run for school board on a platform of transparency. As politicians found out in Virginia’s last governor election, angry parents, particularly angry moms, can be a potent political force. Organize, fight to elect a majority of your school boards and reverse these policies if you are successful. The dissent in this case gives some hope that SCOTUS may grant cert.

    Excellent point. Instead of just complaining on message boards, run for a school board position and really make a difference.

I lived in Northern Virginia (Loudoun County) with my family from 96-2005 and had issues with the schools. Me and my wife had issues with teachers, admin, and the school board. We ended up tutoring our sons to teach them properly.

The schools in the DC area are much worse now. Montgomery County is over the Potomac River and a little to the east in MD from Loudoun County VA. People should pull the kids out of school and go to private and home school as you can change the school board, but the politicians running Maryland will not change and the teachers and admin in the public schools will not change.


Perhaps, theybshouldfileforan en banc hearing and ifnthat dails appealmto SCOTUS. Otherwise, I suggest searching for a parent who has a child that has been damaged by this policy and then filing a new lawsuit. Thats about the best they can do at this juncture other than start a campaign to remove the School Board. In Montgoery County may be difficult. It is a woke HQ.