Monday, May 20, 2024

SCOTUS will not hear challenge to Maryland school district pro-trans policy. Second court victory for LGBTQ kids in a week.

 I'm as shocked as you, but a win is a win. The Supreme Court chose the safety of our LGBTQ children over fear tactics and general nonsense.  At least for now

From Reuters:

The U.S. Supreme Court declined on Monday to hear a bid backed by a conservative Christian legal group to challenge a Maryland school district's policy against informing parents if their children identify as transgender or gender nonconforming. The justices turned away an appeal by three parents with children attending public schools in the Washington suburb of Montgomery County of a lower court's ruling holding that they lacked the necessary legal standing to challenge the policy. The plaintiffs are represented by the Virginia-based National Legal Foundation.

 The issue of transgender rights has become a flashpoint in the U.S. culture wars. As part of this, conservative litigants and parents groups have filed lawsuits in various U.S. jurisdictions challenging school policies that seek to respect requests by transgender students to not "out" them to their parents without their consent. 

 The policy at issue, adopted by the Montgomery County Board of Education for the 2020-2021 school year, permitted schools to develop gender support plans for students to ensure they "feel comfortable expressing their gender identity." The policy directs school personnel to help transgender and gender nonconforming students create a plan that addresses their preferred pronouns, names and bathrooms, and bars staff from informing parents of those plans without a student's consent. 

  The Los Angeles Blade posted the following about the failed lawsuit: 

 Three parents of students in the school district in suburban Maryland outside of D.C., — none of whom have trans or gender non-confirming children — filed the lawsuit. A judge on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last August dismissed the case. The plaintiffs appealed the decision to the Supreme Court. 

The victory comes a week after another victory in Maryland. That particular one had to do with LGBTQ+ curriculum and what I think was an attempted abuse of the opt-out policy. 

 Again, from The Los Angeles Blade

 A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled a group of Montgomery County parents cannot “opt out” their children from classes in which lessons or books on LGBTQ-related topics are taught. The parents filed their lawsuit in May 2023.

 An American Civil Liberties Union press release notes the lawsuit challenges Montgomery County Public Schools’ policy that “mandates the inclusion of literature with LGBTQ+ characters as part of the ELA (English and Language Arts) curriculum, aiming to promote understanding and acceptance among students.” 

 “Although the district originally allowed parents to opt their children out of some ELA lessons, it rescinded the opt-out policy because the number of requests grew too difficult to manage, student absenteeism soared, and it created a stigmatizing environment for students who are LGBTQ or have LGBTQ family members, undermining the purpose of the inclusivity requirement,” said the ACLU. 

 Opt-out policies have been generally used for sex education, but in recent times some parents - backed by conservative groups - have been attempted to weaponize them against anything regarding a mention of LGBTQ people in classrooms. In this case, the parents were objecting to age-appropriate books for pre-kindergartners and elementary schools simply because the books contained LGBTQ characters. 

 According to Reuters

 At issue was a set of LGBTQ-inclusive storybooks that the board in 2022 approved for use in Montgomery County Public Schools’ curriculum. Those books included “Pride Puppy!” an alphabet book by Robin Stevenson about a dog who gets lost amid a Pride parade, and “Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope,” a story by Jodie Patterson about her transgender son’s experience. 

 Parents could originally opt children out of reading the books, but the board abandoned the opt-out option with the 2023-2024 school year, prompting the lawsuit.