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Parents sue Wisconsin school district over gender identity policy

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Two sets of parents are suing a Wisconsin school district over its decision to allow students to change their name and pronouns without parental consent. The parents, whose names were redacted from a copy of the lawsuit published by their attorneys, say Kettle Moraine School District's policy violates their constitutional rights. 

The complaint was filed in Waukesha County circuit court Wednesday by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty and the Alliance Defending Freedom. It alleges that when the 12-year-old child of one of the couples decided in early 2020 that they wanted to use male pronouns and be called a new name, administrators at the Kettle Moraine Middle School said faculty would respect the student's decision — against the wishes of their parents. 

The suit argues that using a child's preferred pronouns and name is a form of medical treatment for gender dysphoria, and says parents have the right to make such medical decisions for their children.

"The Kettle Moraine School District's policy to facilitate and "affirm" a minor student's transition to a different gender identity at school, without parental consent and even over the parents' objection, violates parents' constitutional rights by taking a major, controversial, psychologically impactful, and potentially life-altering decision out of parents' hands and puts it into the hands of school employees, who have no relevant expertise in these issues, and/or children who lack the 'maturity, experience, and capacity for judgment required for making life's difficult decisions,'" the lawsuit reads. 

As a result of the conversation with school administrators, which occurred over winter break, the parents pulled their child from the school "to avoid daily affirmation of this new identity by teachers and staff," the lawsuit said.  

The lawsuit said the student decided not to transition to a male identity weeks later, and told her parents that the gender-affirming care she received at a separate mental health clinic "really messed me up." 

The parents moved the student to a different district, where they were told if the student ever wanted to transition again, school staff would use their preferred name and pronouns, the lawsuit said. 

The lawsuit says the family is "concerned that, without a judicial decision establishing their constitutional rights as parents, they may be forced to go through this whole experience again."  

The other couple suing said they have students currently enrolled in the Kettle Moraine School District, and want to ensure the school "will respect their role as parents."

"Parents' rights to direct the upbringing, education, and mental health treatment of their children is one of the most basic constitutional rights every parent holds dear. Yet we are seeing more and more school districts across the country not only ignoring parents' concerns, but actively working against them," Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Kate Anderson said in a statement to CBS News. 

The Kettle Moraine School District did not respond to CBS News' request for comment. 

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