Judge dismisses lawsuit over transgender student guidelines at Montgomery Co. schools

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by parents against the Montgomery County Board of Education over guidelines dealing with transgender and gender non-conforming students in Maryland. They alleged it violated their state and federal constitutional rights as parents. 

The rules at the heart of the case are MCPS’s 2020–2021 Guidelines for Student Gender Identity in Montgomery County Public Schools. 

The guidelines encourage MCPS employees to make a support plan for a student who says they are trans or gender non-conforming.

“Prior to contacting a student’s parent/guardian, the principal or identified staff member should speak with the student to ascertain the level of support the student either receives or anticipates receiving from home,” the guidelines read. 

In a provision about privacy and disclosure of information the guidelines state students can choose to disclose their gender identity to staff members or other students but it does not authorize school personnel to disclose a student’s gender identity to others, including parents unless legally required or student authorized.

In their complaint, the parents allege that the board’s guidelines are “expressly designed to circumvent parental involvement in a pivotal decision affecting” their children’s “care, health education, and future.”

They also claim it allows children “to transition socially to a different gender identity at school without parental notice or consent.”

They claimed the guidelines violate a host of state and federal law including parental rights in the Maryland Declaration of Rights to “direct the care, custody, education, welfare, safety, and control of their minor children” and their federally protected fourteenth amendment. 

The parents asked the court to impose injunctions preventing their implementation of the guidelines. 

On Thursday, the case was dismissed by U.S. Judge Paul Grimm from the District of Maryland. 

In his Memorandum opinion, he said that the guidelines are meant to be flexible and that the assertion that the Board of Education has an agenda and they wish to hide information from parents, is unsupported. 

He pointed to a portion of the guidelines that read, “These guidelines cannot anticipate every situation which might occur. Consequently, the needs of each student must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.”

He stated the guidelines cannot fairly be read to adopt a policy of excluding parents, because it  actively encourage family involvement during the transition whenever possible. 

WTOP has reached out to the attorney representing the parents and the Montgomery County Board of Education. 

Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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