Litigant seeks parental notification if their child is trans

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

The Pine-Richland School District in western Pennsylvania has been sued in federal court by a litigant who wants trans students outed to their parents, regardless of whether the child would be harmed.

The school district is located just north of Pittsburgh in Allegheny County. It serves the residents of Pine Township and Richland Township. It operates four elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school.

Its total student population is about 4,500 students.

On Jan. 12, “Jane Doe” filed a lawsuit claiming the district has an unlawful policy allowing school officials to hide the trans status of a student from their parents. Doe is represented by America First Legal, a right-wing law firm based in Washington, D.C.

On Feb. 2, Doe requested a preliminary injunction requiring the school district to inform parents if their child is transitioning. A status conference on the request is scheduled for March 21 before U.S. District Judge William S. Stickman IV.

According to Doe’s lawsuit, Pine-Richland School District has a regulation that allegedly intrudes on a parent’s right to oversee their child’s upbringing. The regulation is known as Regulation AR 103(b). The regulation allegedly facilitates the transitioning of a trans student regardless of whether their parent approves.

According to Doe’s lawsuit, such transitioning could include using a student’s preferred pronouns and names; hormone therapies and puberty blockers; and medical alteration of a student’s body. All of this could be done without a parent’s knowledge.

The regulation has been in effect since 2017. A “student support team” exists within the school district to help facilitate a student’s transition, according to Doe’s lawsuit.

Doe’s child is a student in the Pine-Richland School District. The child shows signs of potentially being trans, and Doe is concerned the school district will facilitate the child’s transition without Doe’s knowledge, according to Doe’s lawsuit.

Doe contends the school district treats her unfairly. “Doe requested that the School District notify her of any indications that her child is experiencing gender incongruence,” Doe’s complaint states. “She also forbade the School District from providing her child with care from the Student Support Team or any mental health professional from the School District. But the School District has flatly rejected Doe’s requests.”

Doe’s lawsuit adds: “Regulation AR 103(B) is unconstitutional. It violates the deeply rooted due process rights of a parent to maintain the care, custody, and control of a child without undue state interference — which includes making health care decisions for a child, such as what care and treatment a gender-incongruent child should receive. It violates a century of precedent declaring that a parent’s role in a child’s life is primary.”

According to an American First Legal press release, Pine-Richland “brazenly requires that schools address the student by his or her preferred pronouns; use the student’s preferred name, gender, and pronouns on school records or documents, such as school IDs, classroom rosters, or the Year Book; permits the student to use whatever bathroom the student chooses; and [permits the student] to participate on the sports team corresponding with the student’s chosen gender.”

Neither side had a comment for this story.

Justin F. Robinette, a local civil-rights attorney, expressed optimism that the school district’s policy will be upheld.

“The school district stands on firm legal ground,” Robinette said in an email. “When there’s a conflict between parental rights and the best interests of the child, a school district has to side with the child’s best interests. Otherwise, the school district could be exposed to civil liability for discriminating against — or failing to accommodate — the child. This is settled law in Pennsylvania. And a contrary rule could render a trans student unhoused if outed to a non-supportive parent.”

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