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Iowa school district sued over gender transition policy that leaves parents in the dark

Linn Mar Community School District (Iowa's News Now){p}{/p}{p}{/p}
Linn Mar Community School District (Iowa's News Now)

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In April, the Linn-Mar Community School District outside Cedar Rapids, Iowa adopted a new policy allowing students in grades seven and above to create “Gender Support Plans” without their parents' knowledge or consent.

That move is the basis for a lawsuit filed by parents' rights group Parents Defending Education (PDE), which argues that “nearly a century of Supreme Court precedent” gives parents a “constitutional liberty interest in the care, custody, and control of their children.”

The PDE lawsuit also argues the Linn-Mar School District’s new policy, 504.13-R, strips students of their First Amendment Rights.

The Policy authorizes children to make fundamentally important decisions concerning their gender identity without any parental involvement and to then hide these decisions from their parents," PDE's complaint reads. "Linn-Mar has displayed a similar disregard for students' First Amendment rights," the complaint continues. "The Policy punishes students for expressing their sincerely held beliefs about biological sex and compels them to affirm the beliefs of administrators and their fellow students."

According to the district’s new policy, any student in seventh grade or above “will have priority of their support plan over their parent/guardian.” Furthermore, the policy states the district shall not disclose information that may reveal a student’s transgender status to their parents without that student’s authorization, or unless legally required to do so.

The policy explains that a student’s “Gender Support Plan” will make determinations about their arrangements at school activities based on that student’s desired gender identity. This includes overnight accommodations on school trips, which restroom or locker room facilities to use, dress code rules, and participation in other school activities.

In arguing that parents have primary rights in the upbringing of their children, PDE’s complaint points to numerous Supreme Court cases that have established this precedent.

A child’s gender identity implicates the most fundamental issues concerning the child, including the child’s religion, medical care, mental health, sense of self, and more,” PDE writes in its complaint. “Yet despite ‘extensive precedent’ that parents must be involved in decisions concerning these types of issues school districts across the country are increasingly excluding parents from decisionmaking when gender identity is involved.”

The complaint also chronicles numerous firsthand accounts of parents in the district who fear this policy will circumvent their ability to lead the care of their children. One parent in the district is concerned her special needs child, who is taught in the same classroom where the school’s LGBT club meets, could accidentally say something that may be wrongfully interpreted as an assertion of gender identity, according to the complaint.

Linn-Mar’s new policy also specifically indicates an “intentional refusal by staff or students to respect a student’s gender identity” is a violation of multiple school board policies.

This speech code blatantly violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments,” PDE wrote in its complaint against the district.

In regard to formal athletics, the policy ultimately passes the question on to the Iowa High School Athletic Association and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union. It points out the district will follow its policies and recommendations for issues related to transgender students and athletics.

PDE’s lawsuit is asking the court to prohibit the district from enforcing 504.13-R and to compel the district to pay any reasonable costs, expenses, and relief the plaintiff is entitled to.

The National Desk (TND) reached out to the Linn-Mar Community School District for comment, but did not hear back. If a response is obtained, this story will be updated.

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