A federal judge in the Western District of Michigan on Friday granted the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan’s motion to intervene and represent a student-run LGBTQ support group in a gender identity policy lawsuit, the organization said Monday.
The ACLU filed the motion in March 2018 for the Reynolds v. Talberg case, after a lawsuit was filed against Williamston Community Schools for adopting gender identity policies. The ACLU is representing Williamston High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), an LGBTQ support group.
The ACLU said it agreed with a November 2017 decision by the school board when it approved LGBT student policies and asked to join the lawsuit when a “right-wing group representing a few parents then sued the school district, claiming that the LGBT-inclusive policies violate the religious liberty of Christian families who don’t want their children to be exposed to ‘alternative sexual lifestyles.’”
Community members began a recall effort against four of the school board members after the board approved policies to accept a student’s stated gender identity and allow students to ask for a private bathroom or changing room, according to a story by WLIX.
Three board members kept their seats, Ballotpedia said.
Williamston for Truth is the group leading the charge against the school board.
The school district’s gender identity policy is here. It says:
The Williamston Community Schools fosters an educational environment for all students that is safe, welcoming, and free from stigma and discrimination, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. WCS requires compliance with local, state, and federal laws concerning bullying, harassment, privacy, and discrimination (See Policy 8260 and 8260-R Bullying).
WCS shall accept the gender identity that each student asserts reflecting the student’s legitimately held belief once the student and/or his or her parent/guardian, as appropriate, notifies District administration that the student intends to assert a gender identity that differs from previous representations or records. The District will customize support to allow each student’s equal access to the District’s educational programs and activities.
Parental and family support are key determinants of transgender and nonconforming student health; therefore, student support teams, staff, and community partners should provide resources to help families and students locate information, counseling, and support services. School officials must consider the health, safety, and well-being of the student, as well as the responsibility to keep parents informed.
This policy applies to the entire school community, including educators, school district staff, students, parents, and volunteers.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.
Photo “Williamston High School” by Williamston Community Schools.