Case Name: Darlingh v. Maddaleni, et al.
Type of Case: Individual liberties, free speech
Court: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in Milwaukee
Filed On: November 16, 2022
Current Status: Luke Berg gave oral arguments to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit on December 8, 2023.
STATE THREATENS SCHOOL COUNSELOR’S LICENSE AFTER SHE DENOUNCED GENDER IDEOLOGY AT PUBLIC RALLY
SCHOOL COUNSELOR SUES MILWAUKEE PUBLIC SCHOOLS OVER FREE SPEECH VIOLATION
The lawsuit seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, reinstatement to her prior status and position at Allen-Field Elementary School, back-pay, and damages for the constitutional violations. WILL also asks the court to order MPS to remove the no-trespass order against Ms. Darlingh so that she can attend public events and vote on MPS property.
Background: On April 23, 2022, MPS school counselor Marissa Darlingh spoke at a feminist rally at the state capitol. During that rally, Ms. Darlingh gave a short, unscripted speech, where she publicly expressed that she “oppose[s] gender ideology” in elementary schools and that young children should not be “exposed to the harms of gender identity ideology” or given “unfettered access to hormones—wrong-sex hormones—and surgery.” She argued passionately that she “exist[s] in this world to serve children” and “to protect children,” and does not support social or medical transition of young children. In the passion of the moment, Ms. Darlingh at one point said “fuck transgenderism,” referring to the “gender identity ideology” that she believes harms children.
A group protesting the rally organized a campaign to get Ms. Darlingh fired from her job for her short speech. As she later learned, her supervisor immediately began an “investigation” in response to a few emails from these individuals, none of whom claimed to have any connection to the District or any knowledge of Ms. Darlingh’s work. The investigation revealed that her speech had little impact on her school or students between April and June, and that many students in her school viewed her as their favorite teacher in the school. Nonetheless, without any prior warning or discussion, Ms. Darlingh’s supervisor and two MPS employees in the HR Department initiated misconduct proceedings against her, then suspended her, and then imposed a no-trespass order, all right before the school year ended. Ms. Darlingh spent the summer attempting to resolve the issue with the District, but the employees in charge of the proceedings were uninterested in any resolution short of termination; and on September 30, 2022, they fired her.
- WILL Letter to DPI, May 25, 2022
- DPI Letter to Marissa Darlingh, April 29, 2022
- Video of the April 23 Rally in Madison.
- Complaint, November 16, 2022
- Exhibit 1, November 16, 2022
- Exhibit 2, November 16, 2022
- Exhibit 3, November 16, 2022
- Exhibit 4, November 16, 2022
- Exhibit 5, November 16, 2022
- Exhibit 6, November 16, 2022
- Exhibit 7, November 16, 2022
- Exhibit 8, November 16, 2022
- Exhibit 9, November 16, 2022
- Exhibit 10, November 16, 2022
- Exhibit 11, November 16, 2022
- Exhibit 12, November 16, 2022
- Exhibit 13, November 16, 2022
- Exhibit 14, November 16, 2022
- Exhibit 15, November 16, 2022