Media Contact

David Gwidt, deputy communications director,

February 13, 2024

MADISON – The ACLU of Wisconsin today condemned the state legislature’s passage of Assembly Bill 510, which mandates the forced outing, misgendering, and deadnaming of trans and nonbinary students in Wisconsin schools and imposes widespread classroom censorship of pivotal subjects like systemic racism, racial and gender identity, and sexual orientation. 

Amanda Merkwae, Advocacy Director at the ACLU of Wisconsin, said the following:

“While parents in Wisconsin have a constitutional right to make decisions about their children’s education – like whether to send their kids to public or private school and many other examples protected under statute and case law – Assembly Bill 510, also known as the ‘parental bill of rights,’ has nothing to do with these protected parental rights. This bill disguises classroom censorship as parental rights, enabling politicians to require the forced outing, misgendering, and deadnaming of trans and nonbinary students. It also inhibits educational instruction on race, gender, sexual orientation, and other important topics that impact all of us. 

State lawmakers are trying to deter teachers and students from having an open and equitable dialogue about our country’s history — one that acknowledges the role that racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of injustice have played throughout U.S. history and includes the experiences and viewpoints of marginalized communities.  They are also attempting to involuntarily out students to their parents, even when doing so goes against a student’s wishes or may put them in danger. 

Students should have the freedom to explore their identities, and they also deserve the right to receive an equitable education where they can freely learn and talk about the history, experiences, and viewpoints of marginalized communities in this country. 

When you censor the stories of marginalized communities, you reinforce their exclusion from society and culture. Trans people, gay people, and Black and Brown people are parents, too, and they want their children to learn about the history and experiences of their communities. Many parents want their children to have access to books and materials that give a complete and diverse account of thoughts and ideas.

The First Amendment protects the right to share ideas, including the right of listeners to receive information and knowledge. We must protect this right. The ability to discuss and debate ideas, even those that some may find uncomfortable, is a crucial part of our democracy. Using these laws to prevent recognition and chill conversations about race and gender is anathema to free speech.”