In an unexpected twist, a federal civil-rights lawsuit alleges a Michigan school district’s imposition of a transgender-rights agenda on students and parents violates the very rights created by the Supreme Court decision that established “same-sex marriage.”
It is the first lawsuit in the nation claiming a person’s religious identity is protected by the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges marriage case, according to the legal team that filed suit against the Williamston Community Schools public district and its board.
The claim, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, Southern Division, outlines “numerous civil rights and constitutional violations rising from policies recently passed by the school board,” the lawyers at the Great Lakes Justice Center explain.
“Common sense and common decency demand that biologically intact boys should not be showering with girls, should not be allowed to use girls’ bathroom and locker room facilities, or take a girl’s spot on an athletic team,” said David Kallman, senior counsel with the center.
He’s also the lead lawyer on the case.
“Moreover, parents should not be denied critical health information about their children,” he said.
Added William Wagner, president of the center: “The Supreme Court in Obergefell recognized that all citizens have a right to privacy, dignity, and personal identity. These rights must be protected by the school district for all students.”
The case claims that the school’s policies “deny students their right to privacy, dignity, and personal identity.”
And it says the policies violate parents’ right “to be notified of their children’s health decisions.”
Additionally, the policies violate the right to free speech for both parents and students, and denies students their constitutional right to a free public education.
Title IX is violated when boys take spots on girls’ teams, or vice versa, and the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act is infringed because the district creates “a hostile and offensive environment,” the complaint charges.
Finally, it says, the school board acted without legal authority to carry out the transgender agenda, which had been explicitly rejected by state lawmakers.
The plaintiffs are seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions against the policies.
The plaintiffs are Edward and Erin Reynolds, on behalf of their minor children, and Monica and Christopher Johnecheck.
Defendants are board members Greg Talberg, Christopher Lewis, Nancy Deal, Sarah Belanger, Kathy Hayes, Joel Gerring and the district.
The plaintiffs are trying to “protect and vindicate statutory and fundamental constitutional rights.”
The district, they allege, “deprived plaintiffs and their children of their right to privacy, self-autonomy and personal identity, and freedom of speech.”
“Defendants unjustly discriminate against plaintiffs because of their sincerely held religious beliefs and their viewpoints by adding specially protected categories of ‘sexual orientation,’ ‘gender expression,’ and ‘gender identity’ to defendants’ nondiscrimination and gender/transgender policies and practices.
“Specifically, defendants’ non-discrimination and gender/transgender policies and practices seek to silence and punish plaintiffs’ sincerely held religious beliefs and viewpoint,” the complaint states.
While the plaintiffs are Christian and follow biblical teaching on the subjects of gender and marriage, the district has “adopted the following policies, practices, customs, and procedures promoting and forcing the approval of only one viewpoint on the issues of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.”
Those include the school’s fair employment clause, its guidance program, equal educational opportunity program, gender identity practice and bullying.
The school’s practices are in direct violation of the Bible, the case states, and that leaves the procedures discriminating against Christians and “disparaging” their ideas.
The school’s practices violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments, the lawsuit contends, arguing they violate the Bible and discriminate against and “disparag[e]” the views of Christians.