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T.F. and B.F. v. Kettle Moraine School District

Description:  Two sets of Wisconsin parents have filed a lawsuit against the Kettle Moraine School District to challenge its policy that allows minor students to change their name and gender pronouns at school without parental consent.

Tuesday, Oct 3, 2023

WAUKESHA, Wis. – A Wisconsin court ruled Tuesday that Kettle Moraine School District’s policy of changing students’ names and pronouns at school without parental consent and over their objection violates parents’ rights. Attorneys with Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty and Alliance Defending Freedom representing two sets of Wisconsin parents challenging the policy filed the lawsuit, T.F. and B.F. v. Kettle Moraine School District, in November 2021.

In February of this year, the parents filed a motion that asked the Waukesha County Circuit Court to rule in favor of their parental rights after the court denied the school district’s motion to dismiss the case and noted that the school district policy potentially violates the parents’ rights.

“Parents’ rights to direct the upbringing and education of their children is one of the most basic constitutional rights every parent holds dear,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kate Anderson, director of the ADF Center for Parental Rights. “Yet we are seeing more and more school districts across the country not only ignoring parents’ concerns but actively working against them. The court was right to respect the serious concerns of these parents by holding that Kettle Moraine School District’s policy, which undermines parents and harms children, violates the Wisconsin Constitution.”

“The School District could not administer medicine to a student without parental consent. The School District could not require or allow a student to participate in a sport without parental consent. Likewise, the School District cannot change the pronoun of a student without parental consent without impinging on a fundamental liberty interest of the parents,” the Waukesha County Circuit Court wrote in its opinion.

One of the couples suing the school district was forced to withdraw their then 12-year-old daughter from the district to protect her mental health and preserve their parental role. The district violated their constitutionally protected freedoms by insisting that school staff use a male name and male pronouns to address their daughter at school without their consent and over their objections. Additionally, another couple joined the lawsuit to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to their children.

ADF attorneys serve as co-counsel for the two families along with WILL Deputy Counsel Luke Berg, who is lead counsel in the case.

“This victory represents a major win for parental rights. The court confirmed that parents, not educators or school faculty, have the right to decide whether a social transition is in their own child’s best interests. The decision should be a warning to the many districts across the country with similar policies to exclude parents from gender transitions at school,” Berg said.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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ABOUT Kate Anderson

Kate Anderson serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, where she is the director of the Center for Parental Rights. In this role, she leads the team working to ensure schools respect the role of parents in directing the upbringing, education, and health care of their children. In 2023, Anderson, together with allied attorneys, successfully defended parents in Wisconsin, and her team is actively engaged in many other states and courts protecting the fundamental rights of parents. Anderson's work at ADF began in 2015, focusing on protecting the conscience rights of individuals being unjustly compelled to forfeit their beliefs under threat of government retaliation, heavy fines, or other punishment. Prior to joining ADF, Anderson was an associate attorney with Ellis, Li & McKinstry, PLLC, in Seattle, where she litigated both civil and criminal cases. She obtained her law degree magna cum laude in 2009 from Gonzaga University School of Law, where she served on the Gonzaga Law Review . She is admitted to the state bars of Arizona and Washington, the U.S. Supreme Court, and several federal district and appellate courts.