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On Tuesday April 12, 2022 four parents filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Ludlow School Committee, the principal of Baird Middle School, and various other school officials in U.S. District Court.

The parents are represented by Andrew Beckwith, an attorney and president of the Massachusetts Family Institute. The case, titled Foote et al v. Ludlow School Committee et al 3:2022CV30041, alleges that both the school committee and school employees violated the Civil Rights Act 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 which, in part, states

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.

The complaint itself is not yet freely available on the court’s website, though, according to Masslive,

The lawsuit argues the school district is violating parents’ civil rights by allowing transgender or gender fluid students to adopt different names and pronouns without keeping their parents in the loop. The school district has historically maintained it is following statewide guidelines by supporting the students and protecting their privacy.

The school’s policies are likely done pursuant to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) “Safe Schools Program”. For more on that program click my post here.

According to DESE’s Guidance for Massachusetts Public Schools Creating a Safe and Supportive School Environment, when it comes to pronouns, school officials are trained as follows.

[S]chool personnel should use the student’s chosen name and pronouns appropriate to a student’s gender identity, regardless of the student’s assigned birth sex.

What if parents don’t approve of their child’s new “gender identity”? 

Some transgender and gender nonconforming students are not openly so at home for reasons such as safety concerns or lack of acceptance. School personnel should speak with the student first before discussing a student’s gender nonconformity or transgender status with the student’s parent or guardian. For the same reasons, school personnel should discuss with the student how the school should refer to the student, e.g., appropriate pronoun use, in written communication to the student’s parent or guardian.

These types of policies extend to all aspects of the school day including use of locker rooms and bathrooms.

The case has been assigned to Judge Mark Mastroianni. I’ll report more as proceedings develop.