On a recent episode of the Bloomberg Law podcast, Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Audrey Anderson discussed a current lawsuit filed by parents against a Massachusetts school district fighting the district’s policy to not inform parents if a middle school student requests their parent not be told when the student requests a gender pronoun change. The case is being appealed and a decision is expected from the First Circuit Court of Appeals.
Audrey said the policy at the school is not an unusual policy for many school districts. The policy is reinforced by a Massachusetts law banning discrimination against students based on gender identity. “In order to carry out that duty, [this school has decided] they need to keep that information about the student private if the student asks for it to be private. As the district court opinion says, that law doesn’t set any age limits as to when this right to non-discrimination on the basis of gender identity starts.”
Audrey and podcast host June Grasso also discussed other cases challenging these gender policies – such as cases in the Fourth and Eleventh Circuits, and the possibility of a review by the Supreme Court. “If, when, the Supreme Court weighs into this, I think that some of the justices will have a hard time because the conservative side of the Supreme Court wants very much to have a very, very narrow set of circumstances where substantive due process protects rights,” said Audrey. “On the other hand, I would believe them to, from a policy angle be very concerned about these kinds of school policies. So how they will thread that needle, I think will be very interesting to watch.”
The full podcast episode, “Battle Over Pronouns in Schools,” was released by Bloomberg Law on September 21 and is available online or wherever you get your podcast content.