MADISON — A conservative
group has asked a Madison School District to repeal a
policy that prohibits staff from telling parents if their
child is transitioning genders at school, unless they have
that student's permission.
The guidance document went
into effect last school year, according to a Wisconsin
State Journal report.
Rick Esenberg, president of
the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, said the
policy instructs employees to deceive students' families.
"Whether there's any
aspect of the policy that can remain in place, there might
be," Esenberg said. "I'm not entirely sure that
it is the school district's job to take positions on
things called the gender-binary. But our concern here, the
thing that we're concerned with as a legal organization,
is the exclusion of the parents."
Sherie Hohs oversees the
district's LGBT student support services. Hohs said outing
students to families who may not accept their transition
could have "devastating effects on their
There will be times when we
will follow that student's lead, Hohs said. "And if
it's not the right time to involve family and because we
want all students to feel safe and welcomed ... we're
going to use their affirmed names and their pronouns, and
we're going to get their consent on where those can be
She said about 4% of
Madison school students identified in a 2018 survey as
transgender or nonbinary, or they rejected static gender
identities altogether. People are nonbinary if their
gender identity is not strictly male or female.
The guide also requires
staff to communicate with family using the name and gender
of a student in the district's information system.
Students who are transitioning can change their names and
genders in the system with a guardian's permission.
The approach is to help
students of all ages, even elementary school age.
"Our students are
coming out, and they're coming out earlier, and we're
going to be there for them," Hohs said.