WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, America First Legal (AFL) filed a lawsuit on behalf of Rachel Walden, a Mesa Public Schools (MPS) board member, against MPS and MPS Superintendent Andy Furlis for encouraging and supporting students to identify as members. the opposite sex without notifying the parents;
MPS is the largest school district in Arizona with approximately 55,000 students. Mesa is the third largest city in Arizona and the second largest in the Phoenix metropolitan area. A 2014 study found Mesa to be the most conservative large city in America. But since at least 2015, MPS has maintained a policy of helping students who want to “pass” their genders. Under this policy, MPS staff will ask students if they want their parents to be notified of the transition.
If students do not want their parents to be informed, MPS staff are required to withhold this information from parents. This policy of not notifying parents has previously been explicit and in writing. After controversy arose in the local community over the non-notification policy, MPS revised its written documents to debunk the policy. The new policy satisfies the legal requirement to notify parents, but it still allows school officials to talk to students about their gender identity without parents knowing. And it also teaches students how to make sure their parents never know they’ve talked to school officials about their gender identity.
Even worse, the policy allows students to use opposite-sex locker rooms and showers. The latest version of the policy requires only parental notification after MPS has started to help the student make the social transition at school, and it’s not even clear if these notifications are actually happening.
The policy directly violates numerous statutes, most notably the Arizona Parental Bill of Rights, which recognizes and protects parents’ “fundamental right to direct the upbringing, education, health care, and mental health of their children.” The policy also violates many other statutes, such as the “parental notification” requirement in advance any indication … or representation of sexuality,” and the requirement that parents give consent prior to “a mental health examination in a nonclinical setting or mental health treatment of a minor.”
In a blatant disregard for democratic principles, MPS maintains this policy of not notifying parents and facilitating gender transition, even though the elected MPS governing board has never voted for any such policy, and even though state law only allows for school district governance. the board will adopt “school management policies and procedures.”
America First Legal will always fight radical transgender ideology that falsely says that boys can be girls and girls can be boys. Furthermore, the AFL will continue to fight for parental rights across the country so that parents have maximum control over their children’s upbringing, rather than radical school bureaucrats.
If you are a parent of an MPS student who is concerned about this policy, we would like to hear from you at: [email protected].
Statement by Gene Hamilton, America’s First Legal Vice President and General Counsel.
“Not only do parents have a fundamental right to direct the upbringing of their children, but the Constitution and Arizona law prohibit the policies we are challenging here for our client. School districts like MPS are required to notify parents if their child tries to identify as a different gender. Mesa residents are rightfully outraged by this radical policy, and we will fight for every parent’s right to direct their children’s upbringing,” said Gene Hamilton.
Read the application here.
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