The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Friday that a Madison Metropolitan School District policy allowing transgender students to use different pronouns and names at school without being outed to their parents can remain in effect while the case returns to the lower courts.
Several MMSD parents, who the Supreme Court decided in a 4-3 ruling could not remain anonymous to the district attorneys, sued MMSD over the policy in 2020. Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Brian Hagedorn wrote for the majority opinion, saying that ruling on the policy itself should be the responsibility of the Dane County Circuit Court, instead of the Supreme Court, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Wisconsin ACLU defended the school’s policy in court on behalf of three MMSD Gender and Sexuality Alliances.
“We are glad that the Supreme Court of Wisconsin’s decision today will permit the Madison Metropolitan School District to continue to protect students by allowing them to choose when they share with their families that they are using a different name or pronouns at school than they were identified as at birth,” ACLU senior staff attorney Jon Davidson said in a press release.
The Wisconsin ACLU said in the press release that outing children to their families could be dangerous and cited an amicus brief that states one third of transgender children are rejected by their families after coming out.
A 2021 Dane County government survey of high schoolers reported that students who identify as transgender or think they may be transgender felt more targeted by bullying and harassment than the majority of students.
University of Wisconsin Gender and Women’s Studies Assistant Professor James McMaster said in an email statement to the Badger Herald that using correct pronouns for students is “basic decency,” and MMSD is protecting students through this policy.
“While I celebrate the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision to allow MMSD’s pronoun policy to stand, I also recognize that the fight for gender self-determination will continue not only in the circuit court now tasked with taking up this case but wherever reactionary forces seek to assault trans well-being,” McMaster said.