WILL & Dr. Erica Anderson File Amicus in Case Against Massachusetts School District that Hides Minor Students’ Gender Identity Transitions from Parents

Brief asserts that the school district is violating parents’ constitutional rights

The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), on behalf of Dr. Erica E. Anderson, filed an amicus brief in the First Circuit, urging the federal court of appeals to reverse a District Court decision. The decision currently holds that a Ludlow Public School District’s policy, in Massachusetts can exclude parents from important decisions regarding their minor children’s gender identities and that the policy does not violate the constitutional rights of parents.

The Quotes: WILL Deputy Counsel, Luke Berg, said, “It’s up to the parents to raise their child, not school staff. When a major decision-point arises—like whether school faculty treat a minor child as the opposite sex—schools must defer to parents. WILL is committed to defending parents’ rights and holding school districts and their policies accountable.”

Dr. Erica E. Anderson, PhD, stated, “As an ally and licensed psychologist with over 40 years of experience, I have seen hundreds of children and adolescents for gender-identity-related issues—many of whom transition with my guidance and support. But a transition is a major event in a youth’s life, and parents must be involved.”

Background: The Ludlow Public School District, like some other school districts around the country, adopted a policy that allows minor children to secretly take on a new gender identity at school. All staff are required to treat the minor student as though they were the opposite sex, without parental notice or consent—to the point of even concealing this news from parents.

Many mental-health professionals believe that a gender-identity transition during childhood is an extensive and difficult choice to make, and that parental involvement in this situation is critical for many reasons:

  • To properly assess the underlying sources of the child’s feelings,
  • To identify and address any coexisting issues,
  • To provide support,
  • And, in the end, to decide whether a transition will be in their minor child’s best interests.

The District Court held that this is not a mental-health treatment, but merely a “curriculum” decision—that school districts may not only exclude parents, but also hide a minor’s new gender identity from them. This policy conflicts with best practices and recommendations of those in the psychiatric field. Parents cannot dictate what a school district teaches during the day; but, they do have authority over their minor children. Furthermore, the Constitution protects parents’ authority to make decisions with respect to their minor children. The amicus brief urges the First Circuit to recognize that hiding this significant decision from parents is not only inappropriate, but unconstitutional.

This amicus brief was filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

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Luke Berg

Luke Berg

Deputy Counsel

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