Summary: This case addresses the emerging issue of public schools secretly facilitating gender identity transitions for minor children and deliberately deceiving the child’s parents. Leon County Schools’ “Guide” for LGBT students requires that parents not be informed when a child announces he/she is transgender. The school staff would use the child’s preferred new name and “they/them” when referring to the child at school but revert to the child’s given name and correct pronouns when talking to the parents. IFF wrote to emphasize the serious free speech issues under the First Amendment. Teachers, other school staff, and students are all compelled to deny reality when addressing a gender-confused child.

Introduction: “Transgender ideology is invading American life at an alarming rate. In addition to the massive intrusion on parental rights, the Leon County Schools LGBTQ+ Critical Support Guide (the “Guide”) jeopardizes First Amendment rights by demanding the use of a minor child’s preferred name and pronouns, not only without parental consent or knowledge—but under an official policy that authorizes and directs school personnel to actively deceive a child’s parents if they do not affirm the child’s life-altering decision to transition to the opposite sex. This massive interruption of a school’s expected truthfulness in communications should, at the very least, require the voluntary, informed consent of parents before enrolling their children. Instead, the school district surreptitiously facilitates a major life decision that is virtually guaranteed to cause irreparable harm. The Guide thus turns family structure on its head. Instead of children requiring parental permission, the Guide mandates that parents have permission from their child to attend a meeting at the school about the child’s gender transition. This policy is unconscionable.

Pronouns are an integral part of common, everyday speech, based on objective biological reality concerning another person’s sex and often coupled with the belief that each person is created immutably male or female. This aspect of speech touches a matter of intense public concern and debate. Not everyone accepts culturally popular “gender identity” concepts or believes that a person can transition from one sex to the other. The First Amendment safeguards the rights of students, teachers, and parents to speak according to each one’s own beliefs on these matters, even in public schools. School personnel and students can respect the dignity of others without sacrificing their own rights to thought, conscience, and speech.”

“This Court should reverse the District Court ruling and allow the case to proceed.”

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