Violators were subject to ‘discipline by appropriate measures, which may include suspension and expulsion.’
A federal appeals court on Sept. 29 ordered a preliminary injunction blocking Linn-Mar Community School District’s transgender policy. The appeals court found the challengers were likely to succeed in their free speech challenge to the policy mandating “respect” for gender identity.
Parents Defending Education (PDE) brought the challenge and “work[s] to reclaim our schools from activists.”
“PDE is thrilled with the unanimous decision,” PDE Vice President Caroline Moore told Legal Insurrection. “Parents should rest easier and feel vindicated after the decision in this case.”
The parent members of PDE have children in the Linn-Mar Community School District, located in Iowa, and either feared the school district would punish their children for refusing “to ‘respect’ another student’s gender identity” or would secretly encourage their children to transition.
The preliminary injunction, granted Oct. 2, blocks enforcement of the policy as to its “prohibit[ing] an intentional or persistent refusal ‘to respect a student’s gender identity.'” The policy also required school officials to conceal a student’s transgender status from the student’s parents, but the Iowa legislature overrode that provision.
Violators were subject to “discipline by appropriate measures, which may include suspension and expulsion.”
‘Respect’ for gender identity
Lin-Mar argued that its policy did not violate the First Amendment because “bullying on the basis of gender is not protected speech within the school environment.” The appeals court, however, noted that just because “speech is merely offensive to some listener” does not deprive it of protection:
A school district cannot avoid the strictures of the First Amendment simply by defining certain speech as “bullying” or “harassment.” [One parent] alleges that her child wishes to engage in an “open exchange of ideas” and to express beliefs that others might find disagreeable or offensive. The proposed speech is “arguably affected with a constitutional interest.”
The appeals court found PDE was likely to succeed on its First Amendment challenge because of the “respect” policy’s vagueness and susceptibility to arbitrary enforcement, thus warranting a preliminary injunction. The appeals court did not order a preliminary injunction against the secrecy policy, citing an intervening change in the law rendering that provision unenforceable.
Concealing transgender status from parents
The policy also provided for a “Gender Support Plan” for transgender students, resulting in a meeting that the student’s parents were not entitled to attend without the student’s consent. The policy’s section on “Confidentiality” barred disclosure of “a student’s transgender status to . . . parents unless legally required to do so . . . or unless the student has authorized such disclosure.”
After Lin Mar enacted the policy, the Iowa legislature prohibited school officials from concealing a student’s transgender status, rendering moot the parents’ challenge on that point.DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.