Imagine dropping your son off at school, never knowing that he lives a completely different existence as a girl for eight hours a day -- and everyone knows it but you. And not only do teachers know it, but they go to great lengths to hide it. That's the reality in Madison, Wisconsin, where moms and dads have been furious to find out that not only is the district keeping their children's gender expression a secret, but there's an elaborate scheme in place to keep parents from ever finding out!
Most kids can't take an Advil at school without getting their parents' permission -- but they can create a whole new identity without anyone calling home? Thanks to a policy passed in April 2018, this is the new normal for anyone in Madison public schools. And unlike other areas of the country, who've had to deal with the rogue principal here or there, this is a systemic, district-wide campaign to lie to parents and exploit their children. Under the district's official policy, a girl or boy -- of any age -- can "transition to a different gender identity at school" completely confidentially. They can go to their teacher and demand to be called a new name or pronoun, even use a different bathroom, without their parents' okay.
Even more amazingly, the district is forcing teachers and staff to take the lead in deceiving these families. Madison's policy orders them keep up appearances by using the kids' given names and pronouns whenever their parents are around. If a school employee is concerned that this new identity is creating problems or hurting the child, too bad. They're forbidden from bringing it up with parents. In fact, the only time a mom or dad would be brought into the loop is if their son or daughter wanted to change their official records. Otherwise, they're completely in the dark -- something 14 parents in the district are hoping to change.
Eight families are so outraged by Madison's policy that they've turned to the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to take the district to court. Luke Berg, deputy counsel for WILL, dropped by "Washington Watch" Wednesday to warn other parents and give his take on one of the worst attacks on parental rights any of us have ever seen "We sent a letter in the hopes that the district would just change the policy," he explained. When that didn't work, they filed a lawsuit. "They can either change the rules voluntarily," Luke warned, "or they can wait for a court order." Either way, he argues, "There's a long line of cases that have said that parents have a right to direct the upbringing of their children."
In this case, Luke points out, what's so egregious is that "the policies actually prohibit staff from notifying parents about this unless the child consents -- and in some cases, even require staff to actively deceive parents by using one name at school and then another when the parents show up... [W]e think this violates that constitutional right, but it also comes close to violating a whole lot of state and federal laws..." After all, he argues, "schools require parental permission for almost everything -- athletics, taking medication at school, field trips, and the like. So this is completely anomalous that a school district would take [something as] significant and controversial of an issue as [gender] and say this is one issue that we're going to allow students to [decide] totally on their own. And we're actually going to help them hide this from their parents, if they want."
This just goes to show how politicized the issue of gender identity is. A small fringe of LGBT activists are pushing this agenda on the local level, and it's putting entire cities of children at risk. Just look at what's happening in Madison's elementary schools, where a male teacher is demanding access -- not to the bathrooms of female staff, but to the bathrooms for girls'. "I am an open and out transgender woman," says the K-5 science teacher. Allis Elementary School parents were horrified enough that "Mx." Vica Steele was showing five- and six-year-olds a video of him dressed as a woman -- but fighting to use little girls' restrooms is a bridge too far. "As a best practice," a spokesperson has said, "the district does encourage adult staff to not use a children's bathroom." But Steele vows to keep fighting -- and given Madison's track record, he'll probably win.
"I have been warning for years that one of the central efforts of the moral revolutionaries is to use the power and the structure of the public schools to separate children from their parents. In particular, to separate children from the moral authority and influence of their parents," Albert Mohler said. "That is also exactly what was undertaken in the former Soviet Union and throughout the communist bond. That is exactly what is championed in China and North Korea." And now? It's happening in Madison, Wisconsin.
The liberals who've infiltrated this district know that the only way to open up this pipeline of transition and acceptance is to keep parents on the sidelines. It's time for moms and dads to remind them that God, as well as the Constitution makes parents the authority -- not the schools -- in their children's decisions. Thanks to this lawsuit, Madison may finally get the message.
Do you know what's happening at your son or daughter's school? Learn what to look for in FRC's "A Parent's Guide to the Transgender Movement in Education."
Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.