In February 2020, several parents anonymously sued the Madison Metropolitan School District in Wisconsin state court. The parents claim that the school district’s guidance that seeks to provide support for transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive students violates parental rights and religious freedom by allowing students to use names and pronouns at school different from those they were assigned at birth, without providing parental notification absent a student’s consent. The ACLU and ACLU of Wisconsin, with pro bono assistance from Quarles & Brady, intervened in the case on behalf of LGBTQ student groups at schools in the district to help defend the district’s guidance.
The trial court declined to allow the parents to sue without at least informing the court and counsel for the other parties to the lawsuit of their identities. The parents appealed that ruling and the intermediate appellate court affirmed the trial court. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has agreed to hear their further appeal seeking to proceed anonymously. The parents are also asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to require the district, pending resolution of the case, to inform a student’s parents if a student requests to use a different name or pronouns than they were assigned at birth.
Update: On July 8, 2022, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin allowed MMSD's policy to remain in effect while the case goes forward in the lower courts. Read our press release.