Wednesday, August 24, 2022

School Policy On Treatment of Transgender Students Upheld

In Parents 1 v. Montgomery County Board of Education, (D MD, Aug. 18, 2022), a Maryland federal district court upheld Guidelines promulgated by Montgomery County, Maryland school officials on dealing with transgender and gender non-conforming students.  Parents particularly challenge the portion of the Guidelines that advise school personnel not to disclose a student’s gender identity to their parents without the student’s consent, especially when the student has not yet disclosed their gender identity to their parents, or if the student either expects or knows their parents are unsupportive. Plaintiffs contend that this violates their parental rights protected by the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. The court said in part:

My review of the Guidelines reveals that the Plaintiff Parents’ argument is based on a selective reading that distorts the Guidelines into a calculated prohibition against the disclosure of a child’s gender identity that aims to sow distrust among MCPS students and their families. In reality, the Guidelines instruct MCPS staff to keep a student’s gender identity confidential until the student consents to the disclosure out of concern for the student’s well-being, and as a part of a more comprehensive gender support plan that anticipates and encourages eventual familial involvement whenever possible....

The court concluded that the Guidelines are subject only to rational basis review. It went on to say that even if it were to apply strict scrutiny, the Guidelines would still be upheld because the state's interest in safeguarding a minor's physical and psychological well-being is compelling. The court also dismissed various claims under Maryland law. WTOP News reports on the decision.