The Recent Court Ruling on Parental Notification Went Against the Parents of Montgomery County, but It Isn’t Because the Policy Is Constitutional.
The finding provides a path to winning a similar case. Last Tuesday, August 15, the 4th Circuit Court in Richmond ruled that the case brought by three Montgomery County parents to force the school system to change their policy that precludes telling parents if their child chooses an alternative gender or determines they are transgender found for the schools. But it did not confirm that the policy is legal under the Constitution. In fact, it explains exactly what the courts need to rule that the policy is unconstitutional.
The court indicated they could not rule on the constitutionality because the parents named in the suit did not demonstrate that they had been harmed by the provision and therefore did not have standing. The court specifically stated that “the case begins and ends with standing,” which is not a surprise, but what constitutes standing is a bit different than what we had thought.
Stating that they found no injury, so no standing, the judges said, “Absent an injury that creates standing, federal courts lack the power to address the parents’ objections to the Guidelines. That does not mean their objections are invalid. In fact, they may be quite persuasive. But, by failing to allege any injury to themselves, the parents’ opposition to the Parental Preclusion Policy reflects a policy disagreement”.
Ok, but what constitutes the type of harm that would give parents standing?
“The parents have not alleged that their children have gender support plans, are transgender, or are even struggling with issues of gender identity. As a result, they have not alleged facts that the Montgomery County public schools have any information about their children that is currently being withheld or that there is substantial risk information will be withheld in the future. Thus, under the Constitution, they have not alleged the type of injury required to show standing.”
So if the parents, in this case, had children in the school system that had been harmed as defined by the above, there would have been a much better chance that the ruling would have been found for the parents, and the preclusion of parental notification would have to change.
Parents should contact Transparency in Education if they believe they have been harmed by this policy or believe their rights have been violated.
Our email is [email protected]
NOTE: Denial of religious rights or the harm associated with policies other than parental notification, like bathroom/locker room use and sports participation, are separate topics and not influenced by this decision.