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Court Finds Maryland Parents Can’t Challenge Rule That Stops Schools From Outing LGBTQ+

A federal appeals court has ruled that a group of parents cannot challenge a Montgomery County Public Schools policy advising teachers and staff not to “out” trans-identifying or gender-nonconforming children to their parents. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that three parents in Montgomery County, Maryland, lacked standing to challenge the policy because they had not alleged their children were transgender in the first place. The policy in question, which the Montgomery County Board of Education adopted for the 2020-2021 school year, permitted schools to develop so-called gender support plans for trans-identifying or questioning students to ensure they feel comfortable expressing their gender identity. Under the policy, school staff is expected to create a plan governing a student’s preferred names, pronouns, participation in athletics or school extracurricular activities, and the restroom and locker room facilities they are allowed to access. The policy also requires teachers and counselors to gauge the level of support a student receives or anticipates receiving from their parent if such information is disclosed. While ideally, the gender support plans work toward the inclusion of the family, school staff may choose to withhold information about the plans if a student’s family would not support their coming out or socially transitioning.

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