A federal appeals court ruled on Monday, August 14th that Montgomery County Public Schools can keep students' gender transitions from parents.
Muslim, Catholic, and Greek Orthodox Christian parents sued the district after the Montgomery County School Board informed parents that the system would no longer notify families about gender identity plans and lessons and told parents they could NOT opt their children out of those lessons.
The weird thing is that the judge didn't disagree with parents that this practice is wrong and a violation of parental rights. He dismissed it because the parents who sued did not have children who were transgender or using a gender support plan provided by the district, and therefore they had suffered "no harm" that would allow him to act.
Does that argument sound familiar to you? It should. It's the same one that prevented judges from hearing President Trump's case regarding election fraud.
Here's the problem. If the district keeps these plans away from parents, how are the suing parents supposed to know if they have been using a plan or harmed? Do they have to wait until their children come home with new body parts, hormone treatments, or removal of vital organs?
I find the decision cowardly on the judges' part. But then, I'm no legal expert.
Montgomery County saw this as a victory and certainly as an impetus to continue the practice of providing "gender support plans" to children since 2020- 2021. At least 350 students have taken advantage of the plans in the last three years. (Washington Post)
Frederick Claybrook Jr., lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in an interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation, " Parents do not have to wait until they find out that damage has been done in secret before they may complain. Moreover, the policy, just by being in place affects family dynamics, as the dissenting judge pointed out. We are actively considering next steps in the legal process."
Which leads us to the next point. Parents tell us all the time, " It's not happening here." My question, based on this court decision and other events in schools is, "How do you know?"
Think about it. If schools are allowed to do anything with your child without your knowledge, how will you know if something horribly life altering such as gender transition is happening? What if it is something else? What if your child is being lured into a cult? Or a drug use? Or any other sick practice or relationship?
Many will say, " I would know. I know my child."
I can't tell you how many parents told me that over my years of teaching. I can't tell you how many of them were wrong. Some paid a horrible price for thinking they knew nothing was going on when it was.
If you think your child will tell you, you are also wrong. Most children don't want to hurt or disappoint their parents, so they keep things from them.
That is why the schools MUST keep parents notified of major changes in a child's life. Some will say that it is to protect children from abusive parents that schools don't disclose all that students tell counselors and/or teachers. Again, from my experience, if a child expressed fear that a parent would abuse them for disclosures, there are official channels teachers follow to protect that child.
This is why parents must demand transparency from schools.
What can parents do? First, parents MUST have a presence in their child's school whether it's as a volunteer or a frequent visitor. The better a parent's relationship with the administration and staff there, the more he/she will know about what goes on in the school.
Second, be clear with your children that you want to know what goes on in their lives, no matter how bad they think it is. Teach them from an early age that the people they can trust the most in their lives are their parents. Be consistent with being trustworthy. That doesn't mean giving in to whims and foolish ideas but be honest with your child in an age-appropriate manner. A good relationship with your child will help you know what is going on with them. It's not foolproof, but it works.
Know school and district policies. Don't be caught flatfooted on what your rights are and what the school can and can't do. Ask questions. Demand answers.
And Listen. Talk to other parents.
One thing I have learned in my years in education is that what may not be in our school system today can and will make it here tomorrow. Montgomery County is like the California of Maryland, what starts there makes it everywhere.
You may say I am making parents paranoid.
I sure hope so. This is their children. Sensible paranoia is not only recommended but required.
Parts of this story originated with the Daily Signal: