Doe v. MMSD

Case Name: John Doe et al v. Madison Metropolitan School District

Type of Case: Parental Rights

Court: Dane County Circuit Court

Case Number: 20-CV-454

Filed On: February 18, 2020

Current Status: Petition for review granted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court on January 13, 2022.

PRESS RELEASES

WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT TO HEAR PARENTAL RIGHTS CASE CHALLENGING MADISON SCHOOLS GENDER IDENTITY POLICY

May 23, 2022 | Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) Deputy Counsel, Luke Berg, will participate in Wisconsin Supreme Court oral arguments in Doe v. Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD), a critical parental rights case brought on behalf of a group of district parents.

WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT TO HEAR PARENTAL RIGHTS CASE CHALLENGING MADISON SCHOOLS GENDER IDENTITY POLICY

January 14, 2022 | The Wisconsin Supreme Court granted a petition for review in Doe v. MMSD, a Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawsuit on behalf of a group of parents challenging a Madison Metropolitan School District’s (MMSD) gender identity policy that violates the rights of parents to make important healthcare decisions on their children’s behalf.

JUDGE ISSUES INJUNCTION: MADISON SCHOOL DISTRICT STAFF CANNOT LIE OR DECEIVE PARENTS ABOUT GENDER TRANSITIONS AT SCHOOL

September 29, 2020 | Dane County Circuit Court Judge Frank Remington issued an injunction last week in a WILL parental rights lawsuit that forbids Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) employees from lying or deceiving parents about the gender identity that their child may have adopted at school. The lawsuit is ongoing, but the injunction goes into effect immediately as the case is under consideration.

WILL SUES MADISON SCHOOLS FOR VIOLATING PARENTAL RIGHTS

February 18, 2020 | The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), on behalf of a group of Madison parents, filed a lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court against the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) for adopting and implementing policies that violate the rights of district parents.

WILL TO MADISON SCHOOLS: RESPECT PARENTAL RIGHTS OR FACE LAWSUIT

December 18, 2019 | The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), on behalf of a group of Madison parents, issued a demand letter to the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) urging the district to respect the rights of parents to be involved in significant decisions affecting their children’s health and well-being.

The Lawsuit: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), on behalf of a group of Madison parents, filed a lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court against the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) for adopting and implementing policies that violate the rights of district parents. The challenged MMSD policies enable children, of any age, to change their gender identity at school without parental notice or consent, and instruct district employees to conceal and even deceive parents about the gender identity their son or daughter has adopted at school. These policies violate critical constitutionally recognized parental rights.

Background: In April 2018, the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) adopted “Guidance and Policies to Support Transgender, Non-binary & Gender-Expansive Students.” Importantly, the policy includes the following provisions:

  • Children of any age can transition to a different gender identity at school, by changing their name and pronouns, without parental notice or consent.
  • District employees are prohibited from notifying parents, without the child’s consent, that their child has or wants to change gender identity at school, or that their child may be dealing with gender dysphoria.
  • District employees are even instructed to deceive parents by using the child’s legal name and pronouns with family, while using the different name and pronouns adopted by the child in the school setting.

The MMSD policy violates parents’ constitutionally protected rights in multiple ways, including:

  • Parents have the right to make important healthcare decisions on their children’s behalf. Transitioning to a different gender identity is a significant psychotherapeutic intervention that requires parental notice or consent. There are multiple treatment options for gender dysphoria, some of which don’t involve transitioning, so parents must be involved in which treatment path to pursue.
  • Gender dysphoria is often associated with significant psychological distress and requires support from mental health professionals. MMSD’s policy interferes with parents’ ability to provide the support their children may urgently need.
  • The policies also conflict with the “general rule [in Wisconsin] requiring parents to give consent to medical treatment for their children.”
  • For some parents, gender identity issues also have religious significance. MMSD’s policy interferes with parents’ free-exercise rights to raise their children in accordance with their religious beliefs and to select a treatment approach consistent with those beliefs.

WILL issued a demand letter to the school district on December 18 urging the district to update and amend the above policies to avoid a lawsuit. MMSD responded on January 31 that there would be no update to district policies.

Following the district’s refusal to update the policies, WILL, on behalf of a group of Madison parents, filed a lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court against MMSD for adopting and implementing policies that violate the rights of district parents. These policies violate critical constitutionally recognized parental rights.

WILL represents 14 individual parents from 8 families with students in MMSD.

Current Status: The Wisconsin Supreme Court granted a petition for review on January 13, 2022.

 

Media and Commentary

Wisconsin Spotlight | RIGHTS OF PARENTS ON TRIAL

January 17, 2022 | M.D. Kittle

Cap Times | Wisconsin Supreme Court to consider MMSD gender identity guidance

January 14, 2022 | Scott Girard

WISC-TV | Wisconsin Supreme Court agrees to review suit against MMSD over transgender student preferred name policy

January 14, 2022 | Logan Reigstad

Cap Times | Parts of MMSD gender identity guidance on hold as legal challenge continues

September 29, 2022 | Scott Girard

Cap Times | Conservative advocacy group sues Madison Schools over gender identity guidance, plaintiffs are 14 anonymous parents

February 18, 2020 | Scott Girard